emoticons

As you have no doubt noticed, I’ve been playing. I’m a long time Yahoo IM’er and I love their emoticons. So when I spotted some style code for incorporating them into a livejournal style, I jumped on it a few months ago for the initial basics.

I had some spare time this week, so I decided to see what was out there, because I know there’s way more than just the Yahoo set (though I think they’re about the best starter set, see here). But of course if you frequent forums, other blogs, etc, you will see others and some of them are just too darned cute not to somehow include. So…my repertoire has been extended! :geek:

It’s interesting though, googling on emoticons, because I also came across quite a bit of discussion on emoticons and really they’re a love-hate thing. What I find funny is that by all rights I should hate them, being technically “old guard” (just about anyone who’s been on the net prior to 1995; I got on in 1983). Back then emoticons were strictly written (graphics bandwith was just out of the question) so you had things like : ) for a smile, and : ( for a frown (everything was in courier style non proportional fonts, too, of course) AND most of the time their usage was sarcastic. So the : ) very often meant “fuck off, sucker”. Also, the more current anti-emoticon sentiment revolves around their being too “cutesy” for “serious” stuff (eg, as expressed here, overanalysed here and listed here).

Of course as the ‘net (d)evolved, the usage spread, changed, mutated, etc. I think I’m somwhere in between: if I see the old style lettering, I’ll check for sarcasm and then if I don’t see any, take it at face value. If they are presented graphically, though, I will take them at face value. Given that Yahoo/Gaim automatically render the written : ) into (smile), however, even my initial concept of how the written emoticons present themselves has been changing.

However, in one respect the emoticons have gone way, way too far. Who knows what something like #-) is supposed to be these days? Geordi LaForge (ST:TNG)? A bureaucrat? Someone blind drunk? (see Wiki Emoticons and here). This point is made here as well. That’s where graphical emoticons come in handy. But sometimes you can’t display those easily (if you’re not seeing the ones I have here, try clicking on the permalink below) – not all mailers will deal with attached pictures (which are themselves such a source of viruses on those windows machines that most people sensibly shut them off explicitly). Tangled, indeed. Perhaps someday it will be more standardized, although I’ve always kind of liked the Wild West atmosphere of the ‘net.

A tradition I’m familiar with, but not sure where it got started (although it’s no doubt inspired in part by HTML), involves notations such as <grin> and <wicked grin> — I started using those on email lists, partly because I noticed there I tended to have a larger group of people unused to the more geeky atmosphere of stuff on Usenet where you were more likely to see the text variations.

Anyway, my rather long winded point here is that in choosing to implement them in my LJ style, I decided to use what I’ve seen in many forums (particularly phpBB and similar software) which is to put the emotion between two colons, such as :dyspeptic:. This way, if it is rendered, all is well, you get the graphic. If it is NOT rendered, it’s still okay, you understand what it was meant to convey (instead of scratching your head over something obscure).

Anyhow, this bit of geeky philosophy comes to you on a lazy friday afternoon…

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