from the NY Times, Pagan Kennedy (no, not a typo)
“The first line of my obituary is going to mention the smiley face,” says Scott Fahlman, who would rather be remembered for his research into artificial intelligence. But like it or not, Fahlman has become famous for three keystrokes. In 1982, as a young professor at Carnegie Mellon University, he realized the need for a symbol to temper the bickering that plagued online forums. The Internet was just a baby then, and yet already flame wars raged. Fahlman decided that a smiley face could be useful as a “joke marker” (as he called it) to take the sting out of mocking statements or pranks. And so he hunted around the keyboard for a way to make the face. “But what do you use for eyes?” he wondered. Once he found the colon, the rest was easy. He dashed his suggestion off to friends. “I didn’t even proofread the message,” he says.
The emoticon — perhaps one of the first online memes — spread to other campuses, hitching a ride in e-mails. And as the Web expanded in the ’90s, so, too, did the colon-hyphen-parenthesis. “Wherever the Internet went, the smiley face was there within weeks,” Fahlman says. The symbol has endured because it’s a quick way to soothe hurt feelings or express joy. But Fahlman still hears complaints that it is a hallmark of lazy writing. His critics tend to raise questions like “Would Shakespeare have used a smiley face?” Yes, Fahlman says, if Shakespeare were around today, thumb-tapping a screed “about parking at the Globe Theater, he might say something intemperate. And then he might think twice about it and want to use an emoticon.”
Tyler Schnoebelen, who has a Ph.D. in linguistics, analyzed millions of Twitter messages to understand how people use emoticons.
You found that about 10 percent of the tweets in your sample had emoticons in them. Why so many?
In a full paragraph, you might be able to express how you’re feeling. But it becomes harder in a tweet, where you only have a few words.
What is the difference between people who use and people who use ?
The people who use follow a younger set of celebrities. They swear more, and they use spellings like “sooooo” and “loooove.”
What about ? Is it a flirt?
Yes, we can assume that. It tends to appear near words like “horny,” “attractive,” “hot” and “dirty.” It doesn’t occur near words like “pleasant” or “irritated.” The world of is sexy.
Do you use emoticons?
Actually, yes, I’ve become a connoisseur of them. I love the :))) — it’s like saying “I’m soooooooo happy.” But I don’t personally use that emoticon, because to me it looks like someone with multiple chins. And over the last year, I’ve been using the a lot.
So now that you’ve finished this research on the emoticon, you’re ;)-ing a lot?
Yes, now I do more flirting.
THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE?
Western-style emoticons often read from left to right, as “sideways faces.” Japanese thumb-typists, meanwhile, have invented their own system.
Bowing down in apology
From now on I hope always to stay alert, to educate myself the best I can. But lacking this, in the future I will relaxedly turn back to my secret mind and see what it has observed when I thought I was sitting this one out. We never sit anything out. We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
I don’t describe the future. I try to prevent it.
You must live feverishly in a library. Colleges are not going to do any good unless you are raised and live in a library every day of your life.
Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.
My stories run up and bite me in the leg — I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.
Why would you clone people when you can go to bed with them and make a baby? C’mon, it’s stupid.
All from Ray Bradbury, 1920 – 2012
Did you know who John Mortimer was, prior to today? I didn’t, but these quotes were amusing.
Check-ups are, in my experience, a grave mistake; all they do is allow the quack of your choice to tell you that you have some sort of complaint that you were far happier not knowing about.
If I don’t like the way the times are moving, I shall refuse to accompany them.
I found criminal clients easy and matrimonial clients hard. Matrimonial clients hate each other so much and use their children to hurt each other in beastly ways. Murderers have usually killed the one person in the world that was bugging them and they’re usually quite peaceful and agreeable.
I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.
I suppose that writers should, in a way, feel flattered by the censorship laws. They show a primitive fear and dread at the fearful magic of print.
No brilliance is needed in the law. Nothing but common sense, and relatively clean finger nails.
We don’t know much about the human conscience, except that it is soluble in alcohol.
All from John Mortimer, 1923 – 2009
—John Clifford Mortimer was born at Hampstead, London on this day in 1923, the son of a barrister. After Harrow he entered Brasenose College, Oxford, then worked for the Crown Film Unit when he was barred from military service due to his poor eyesight, writing his first dramatic scripts. He was called to the bar in 1948, handling wills and divorces, then “took silk” in 1966, moving into criminal law but also gaining prominence as a defender of publishers and book sellers in obscenity cases. He wrote in the mornings before court, most notably of the combative curmudgeonly Horace Rumpole, which allowed him to retire from the law in 1984.
The quotes and notes above are from Quotes of the Day, sent out by G. Van Horn, the Quotemaster. Subscribe here.
Some days I just skim, some I open and and feel a kinship to the author. “Heh. I could’ve written that one. My sentiments exactly.” This was one of the latter types of days. :) Hope your day is lovely. It’s SUDDENLY SUMMER here. Low 60s until yesterday. Today should be 93. Whew.
When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the Church, which belongs to God and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equalizer. — Keith Richards
I grew up in the library. I read every single book on the children’s section floor before I was out of 6th grade and had to argue with the librarian to let me upstairs. Books were my friends and my solace. Books gave me the huge vocabulary that let me place so high on the standardized tests.
Go read the article in the link above, it’s depressing. One of the tech guys I follow went to a (sparsely attended) SXSW talk and tells us a little about it.
Two of my favorite people are librarians. Neither of them get to work in libraries anymore. My (30 year old) stepson is going to school to become a librarian. I am having difficulty understanding his thought processes about it. Not that I ever understand him, anyway, but library science in this day and age seems like a dead end.
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.
- Cynthia Heimel
Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
- Gloria Steinem
When men have come to the edge of a precipice, it is the lover of life who has the spirit to leap backwards, and only the pessimist who continues to believe in progress.
- Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874 – 1936
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope.
- Maya Angelou
Half of the failures in life come from pulling one’s horse when he is leaping.
- Thomas Hood, 1799 – 1845
Life is a traveling to the edge of knowledge, then a leap taken.
- D. H. Lawrence, 1885 – 1930
HAH! no drama to speak of this week.
From last week, my son booted the baby mama out, which I really hate, but will get used to, I suppose. I didn’t have to live with her. I worry that I won’t see Katie as much and she’ll be subjected to crazy people, but maybe not. I feel bad for all of them. The rise in childhood obesity corresponds exactly to the rise in divorce rates. I read that somewhere. On the internets. So it must be true.
Goob is doing fine, blood sugar is fine, surgery is healing nicely, and he barked enough last Friday to incite our neighbor into even greater deeds of spying. Crazy old man. Jeebus. On a ladder into our yard. Peering non-stop through the fence. Wiggling the bushes when we get to close to the fence line like he’s backing up not to get caught. I flip him off a lot, don’t suppose it helps but? Next I’m going to post a bible verse in big letters to the back of the house just for him. About a spy being as bad as a murderer. That should fan the flame a little. He’s really starting to bug us. He’s older than dirt but in good shape. The little bastard will probably outlive me. I think he’s pushing 80. At least. I’m going to swim naked a lot this summer in hopes of giving a heart attack.
Here he is, on a ladder on his side of the fence, looking into our backyard. He’s an old perv, I think. Maybe the naked swimming is a bad idea.
Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid it will never begin.
- Grace Hansen
Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.
- Janis Joplin, 1943 – 1970
If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.
- Maya Angelou
What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.
- Pearl Bailey, 1918 – 1990
People sometimes get crazier as they get older. I can just be weird whenever I want, and there’s the freedom of not caring what people think.
- Candice Bergen
The only thing to do is to hug one’s friends tight and do one’s job.
- Edith Wharton, 1862 – 1937
I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.
- Mother Teresa, 1910 – 1997
Good music is wine turned to sound.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850 – 1919
Music doesn’t have to be your livelihood to make your ‘hood lively.
- Mardy Grothe
Music … will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906 – 1945
Love cannot express the idea of music, while music may give an idea of love. <— love this one
- Hector Berlioz, 1803 – 1869
You must always believe that life is as extraordinary as music says it is.
- Rebecca West, 1892 – 1983
Music is the most abstract of the arts and it expresses the sound of the universe itself. These are the real rhythms that stimulate the artist’s mind and guide his hand.
- Robert Genn
No matter how big or soft or warm your bed is, you still have to get out of it.
Loss either teaches you to persist in the face of suffering, or hardens you into a bitter cynic. Sometimes, it does a little of both.
I don’t like old people on a rock and roll stage. Me included.
Janis [Joplin] knew more than I did about “how it was”, but she lacked enough armor for the inevitable hassles. She was open and spontaneous enough to get her heart trampled with a regularity that took me thirty years to experience or understand.
I don’t miss anything about the 1960s, not really. I did it. It’s like asking, ‘Do you miss the fourth grade?’ I loved the fourth grade when I was in it, but I don’t want to do it again.
Without alcohol I’d be richer by two million dollars that went to pay lawyer’s fees.
All from Grace Slick
Filming is like a long air journey: there’s so much hanging around and boredom that they keep giving you food.
He who laughs most, learns best.
I used to desire many, many things, but now I have just one desire, and that’s to get rid of all my other desires.
If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.
When people say ‘I’m not a prude, but …’ what they mean is ‘I am a prude, and …’.
You don’t have to be the Dalai Lama to tell people that life’s about change.
I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel, and incompetent comes naturally to me.
All from John Cleese