Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Genicons for the People

By Adam Theo in Op-Ed
Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 05:24:49 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Genicons (or "Generic Icons"), those little text-string creations that increasingly many Instant Messaging clients interpret into cute litle graphics. They are related to "emoticons", but instead of expressing emotions, they simply display generic items such as beer mugs, moons, stars, and kitty cats. They are being demanded by the "newbies" of the 'Net, but no two systems use genicons the same way. Should there be a One True Way?

What are: "Genicon" is a term of my own creation to differentiate the emotive emoticons from the generic genicons (sounds like factions of Transformers...). It arose during the heated debates just winding down on the Jabber development mailing list about how Jabber should "do" emoticons. During this debate, there was much confusion between the ASCII art "smileys" and "frownies", and the keyword-based graphics commonly seen in the popular MSN messenger. So I coined the term "genicons" to represent the non-ASCII-art graphics of common or cutesy items.

Importance: Much of the debate was over what bits of text should be used to create genicons. This debate raged for over almost a week, and well over 100 posts. Many would consider it sad so much time was spent arguing shorthand, but I consider it a very important issue. It is a "make it or break it" point for many newcomers to the Internet. You know, the ones who don't care if the software is stable or secure, only that it looks cool? And while it's tempting to just ignore those users, the projects that hope to become used "everywhere" for "everything" like Jabber must adapt to bring these people in.

Plaintext Convention: Most of the people wanted clients to scan all incoming messages looking for plaintext keywords to mark up into their graphical representations. Some simple form of notation would be used, such as putting a key-letter in parenthesis ala MSN ((f)) or surrounding it in double colons (::foo::) so it could remain meaningful to non-genicon readers.

XML Convention: Another camp wants to take Jabber's emphasis on XML all the way by using XML to markup emoticons and genicons. XML would enable senders to specify what images are displayed, fetching from a database on the local machine or pulling off the web. The XML would either be inline with the message body, or in the header (for lack of a better term) and would define/detail the plaintext keywords appearing in the body. XML, says its supporters, is the only way for a truely international, language-independent mechanism to be created. It would be future-proof since senders could make their own genicons on-the-fly and would not be tied down to a standards body or the client developer.

Plaintext Flaws: The XML camp says plaintext "mangling" is a sloppy and inefficient way to do genicons and emoticons. Regexp is a messy mechanism that client developers should not be forced to incorporate into their clients. Also, in-line plaintext runs the risk of interfereing with "normal conversation". How many times have you posted some source code in an IM and have it pop up as annoying smileys?

XML Flaws: The plaintext camp says XML would unnecessarily bloat the messages and would add more CPU and memory strain than it was worth. Also, the XML proposals rely on technologies which do not yet exist in Jabber, such as "advanced browsing" (the ability to see what capabilities the recipient client is capable of), feature negotiation (for sender and receiver to agree on what can and can't be included with the messages), and prolific XHTML support in clients. Also, allowing the sender to specify the image from the Web would allow spammers to see which accounts are valid and have humans at the other end by linking to unique filenames in each message. This is done in Email, but should not be done in Jabber.

Conclusion: So it boils down to who has the better system. Is it the traditional plaintext "manglers", or the new-age XML "bloaters"? Voice your opinion on the future of Genicons and Emoticons.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


How should Genicons be done?
o Flexible XML, allowing users to create their own. 6%
o Simple plaintext, using existing technology and following KISS. 12%
o Some hybrid of both (express your ideas). 2%
o Some other convention (express your ideas). 0%
o They should not be done. 26%
o I don't care $%^& about "Genicons"! 41%
o "Genicons"... ooo, a cool new net lingo. 5%

Votes: 118
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o emoticons
o beer mugs, moons, stars, and kitty cats
o heated debates just winding down
o Jabber development mailing list
o ASCII art "smileys" and "frownies"
o MSN messenger
o Jabber
o plaintext keywords to mark up
o using XML to markup emoticons and genicons
o Also by Adam Theo

Display: Sort:
Genicons for the People | 56 comments (46 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
One true way : (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by The Eradicator on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 02:14:20 PM EST

Eternal file bitmaps. (file name + length + CRC). Your 'XML for everything' approach is most amusing, however.

Inline bitmaps (5.00 / 2) (#9)
by fluffy grue on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:05:00 PM EST

For 8-pixel-wide monochrome you could just do them inline to begin with... like, a simple smiley would look like: <icon data="#09000906">
"#kuro5hin [is like] a daycare center [where] the babysitter had been viciously murdered." -- CaptainObvious (we
[ Parent ]
I like your way better, I like the simplicity (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by The Eradicator on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:11:23 PM EST

And it wouldn't have to be limited to small monochrome bitmaps either.

But of course, making it "simple" isn't the whole purpose of the exercise - it's obvious that the original author wants to make pointless busy-work for themselves because they have no life.

[ Parent ]
or (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by pb on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:26:27 PM EST

You could use a text-based image format, like .XPM or .XBM or .PS or something.

And if that's too bloated, then gzip/uuencode it. :)
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
I don't get it (5.00 / 1) (#2)
by Sunir on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 02:53:53 PM EST

I must be missing something. You could just add <jabber:x:dingbat type=":-)">:-)</jabber:x:dingbat> to the stream. Jabber clients that don't support the <jabber:x:dingbat/> tag would merely ignore it (automagically), displaying the :-) instead. Those that understand it could replace it with an image if they have one in their image library. For clients that don't want to bloat the stream, you could eventually migrate to merely <jabber:x:dingbat type=":-)"/>.

This approach is the XML way and it's simple enough. What's wrong with it?

It would be a really bad idea to complicate the clients by adding a non-XML syntax for them to parse. Why use XML at all, then? It would have been more efficient to use a binary protocol in the first place.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r

Unfortunately (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by Adam Theo on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:02:11 PM EST

Many Jabber clients expect plaintext in the <body> of a message, and simply display the body as-is, instead of stripping out any XML in-line. This heralds back to a day when Jabber didn't have support for XHTMl and plaintext messaging was the no-brainer method. This will change, over time, but it restricts what Jabber can do in the here and now.

-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]
Beg to Differ (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by temas on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:30:47 PM EST

No, this won't change. <body> _IS_ intended for just plaintext. It always has been always will be. People can expand the xhtml with other namespaces just like XML should be, but <body> is and will be for plaintext.

[ Parent ]
Ah, ok (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by Adam Theo on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 04:03:17 PM EST

Thanks Temas, for fixing my misconception. Now that I think about it, keeping <bosy> as strictly plaintext makes alot of sense, allowing the "lowest common denominator" to always exist for everyone.
-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]
Nice article (1.66 / 3) (#4)
by Hopfrog on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 02:56:02 PM EST

Whatever you do, just make sure those icony things come. They are very popular, and I like them myself because they allow you express some kind of emotion.

Why don't you just do like trillian - (cowboy), (ashamed), etc.... Makes sense both ways.


So... (4.50 / 4) (#5)
by fluffy grue on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:01:24 PM EST

What happens if you happen to use the word "cowboy" in a parenthetical aside? For example, "I have a friend who is a horse wrangler (cowboy). He has trouble making ends meet."
"#kuro5hin [is like] a daycare center [where] the babysitter had been viciously murdered." -- CaptainObvious (we
[ Parent ]
You mean... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by whatwasthatagain on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 04:30:09 PM EST

For example, "I have a friend who is a horse wrangler (cowboy). He has trouble making ends meet."

You mean, like "I have a friend who hates Instant Messaging icons (genicons). He has trouble getting them to print in plaintext."

:-) +1 for the story, -1 for the idea.


With profound apologies to whomsoever this sig originally belonged.
[ Parent ]

The trick (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by Adam Theo on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 04:43:38 PM EST

the trick to making a genicon system is to use some form of notation that won't accidentally be used in normal conversation. parenthesis happen too often, so something that is still meaningful yet uncommon must be found. the double-colon system seems to do this the best, IMO.

-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]
Double-colons have some history, at least (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by AndyDeck on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 08:12:44 PM EST

I'm probably dating myself horribly here, but back in the days before AOL made the jump to Windows, early 90's, I think, I used to be a co-host for one of the chat rooms. We used ::s all of the time for emotes. So there's some history for the usage. I still find myself occasionally wanting to type ::sigh::, for instance. I'd like to see some kind of hybrid support, personally. Pre-canned emotes, such as ::smile:: being transformed to a smiley graphic, and flavored free-form emotes like <angry>Dang nab it!</angry> - wait, I looked at your(?) proposal for xhtml - that's a lot more powerful than I was thinking, letting you pull in out-of-band graphics freely. Hm... combine this with my reminiscence below on an old AOL feature, and I see a problem. What if I don't WANT someone to be able to push a graphic of their choice (goatse...) into my client? You'd have to have a restricted list of blessed genericons. Hm, I'll have to think about this one some more.

This subject really takes me back... I don't know if this still exists, but at the time there was even a way to trigger sounds on other people's computers... an in-line command that would trigger a named .wav file for anyone who had that file on their machine. I've been looking at Jabber for a while now, trying to interface it with a corporate web solution that I'm working on. It's good stuff - I'm just missing a couple of features, and don't have the time to code them into the existing small/free Java clients.

[ Parent ]
Pushing unwanted graphics (none / 0) (#36)
by Adam Theo on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 10:15:33 PM EST

Yep, the XHTML proposal on my site is one of the options that was discussed. It involves using XHTML to embed images into messages, so senders can specify their own emoticons from a local database or off the Web.

You are very right in that it opens up whole new problems, and that is why I decided to ditch that idea in favor of the cleaner plaintext solution.

Here's something to chew over, though: this is done in email, although not many people know it. Spammers can mass-send messages out, each message having a dynamically generated URL to an embedded image. When a receiver reads the message, the image is pulled off the web. The spammer then just needs to watch which URLs are requested from their web server and match it up to addresses they mailed off.

A little known privacy hole in Email. Hopefully Jabber won't fall into it.
-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]
very easy solution (none / 0) (#47)
by Shpongle Spore on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 04:11:41 PM EST

Have the client only automatically download out-of-band graphics from people on your contact list. Add a button to load graphics manually for messages from new senders.

Is this really an issue, though? I thought it was possible to confirm delivery of Jabber messages within the protocol itself, unlike email.
I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
[ Parent ]

expressing emotion (none / 0) (#35)
by three-pipe on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 09:44:11 PM EST

why is it that people feel the need to use tiny little cartoons in order to make their emotions felt? WORDS, people!!!! poets used them, and they do work for expressing emotion.

-chad \\ warfordium.org \\
[ Parent ]
There are good reasons. (none / 0) (#37)
by rodoke3 on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 10:41:57 PM EST

When I was first learning about using the internet, i read (somewhere), that in chat, many people would type all at once. So that if you couldn't type quickly, your comments could get lost. Typing acronyms and "smileys" would shorten the amount of typing one would have to do. For instance, I can type only 30 words per minute (on a GOOD day!) and typing 'LOL' would take a lot less time than typing 'Laughing Out Loud'.

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky

[ Parent ]
Cetainly important (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by revscat on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 05:06:56 PM EST

I feel this is an important topic for another reason: the increasing use of IM technologies on wireless devices. These things have taken off much more rapidly in Japan because (among other reasons) that language uses symbols instead of characters, thus allowing for more data to be communicated in a limited amount of space. Languages that use the alphabet suffer because more space is needed to communicate ideas. If we were to have some sort of universally agreed upon symbol system, it would help out our ability to communicate via PDAs, cell phones, and similar devices tremendously.

- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
two alphabets (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by baronben on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 08:30:47 PM EST

I'm not sure that the Japanse use the ideogram based alphabet (I think its call Katakana, my knowledge of the language comes from Anime, so I'm no expert), its a pain in the ass to get the character you want, I think it is done by typing in what you want using the character based alphabet (Kanji) and then select the ideogram that you want. It would certenly be a pain to do on a little cellphone or PDA.

I think that the Japanse use this technology more beacuse they are generealy more willing to use these sort of seeminly useless things before America does. Plus, they allready have g3 wireless going, which makes it easyer.

Can some one tell me if I'm off my base with my point, someone with actual knowledge of Japan, not just what they show us in their cartoons?

Ben Spigel sic transit gloria
[ Parent ]

I'm pretty sure you have it backwards... (none / 0) (#34)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 09:35:32 PM EST

From what I remember from my 2 semesters of Japanese, there are four writing systems. Katakana (phonetic), Hiragana (also phonetic), Kanji (iconic imported from China, and Romanji (same phonetic system as other two phonetic ones but in roman characters). Oh, found a link that might help.

[ Parent ]

my experience with japanese keyboards (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by SocratesGhost on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 10:59:16 PM EST

I wouldn't think of roma-ji as an addition to the three Japanese alphabets. Literally translated, it just means "roman letters" and its for transliterating Japanese to Westerners. They do use Arabic numerals, and that may be considered roma-ji, but they don't use the alphabets in newspapers, notes, or any other day-to-day use, at least not that I saw.

That said, I worked in Japan back in 94 when they had some weird kludgy software to process Japanese characters on western computers. You basically used a modified QWERTY keyboard (in that everything was roma-ji with some small changes). Since every Japanese character is basically a consonent-vowel combination (for example: na, ni, nu, ne, no) or a single vowel (a, i, u, e, o), you basically typed the sound in (like "n" and then "a") and you would then be given a pop-up menu that would allow you to pick a hiragana "na", a katakana "na" or any single kanji that began with "na". If you kept typing, this would narrow down the kanji choices further. You could then arrow through the choices and hit enter to select the character that you wanted, or else it would render the characters in katakana by default. Also, only for the case of "n", it would give you the "n" character, but that's the only single consonant on its own. It was rather slow to become familiar with it, but just like QWERTY keyboards, you get used to it.

I wonder what they use nowadays. After all, they have two alphabets of over 100 phonetic characters each, and a Kanji alphabet with 1850 daily usage Kanji (plus many more that are still used but aren't part of the official 1850 limit). It always boggled my mind how they would ever be able to create a native Japanese keyboard.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
OT:Kanji, not Katakana (none / 0) (#45)
by bloog on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:10:00 AM EST

Japanese has three alphabets:Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji.
Hiragana are the simpler, more flowing characters, where each symbol represents a single syllable. All Japanese words can be written in Hiragana, by using the sounds that represent each Kanji character. This is the 'character-based alphabet'.
Katakana are the more angular, but still simple characters that are now used mostly for phonetically representing foreign (especially English) words.
Kanji are the ideograms you were thinking of. They range from fairly simple looking to grotesquely complicated things, but each represents a concept. One of my favourite examples of this is the kanji for 'Japan'. You write 'Japan' as two characters, ni-hon, in this case sun-land or land of the rising sun. Much cooler than English:)

[ Parent ]
I will not submit! (5.00 / 10) (#20)
by jabber on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 05:13:14 PM EST

Dammit! I have to juggle text messages from all those instant messageing losers all day as it is.. I WILL NOT cater to their ignorant whinning about genicons!! If they want to ask someone out for a "beer", they can type "B E E R ?" just like everyone else.. Not "( B ) ?", not "[ b e e r ] ?", not "@ b e e r ?", nor anything equally assinine!! Are these people such idiots that they can't use text, and need little pictures to understand each other?? What's next?? They'll want me to resurrect the flipping 'blink' tags?? For Kibo's sake, give it up already.. Use ASCII.. If you're agreeable, I might support UNICODE in the future, but genicons?? Hell, the idea doesn't even deserve to have a make up yet pronouncible term..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

What about (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by roam on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 05:17:26 PM EST

<beer type="dark" brand="guiness">

Are they like hamsters?
Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman

[ Parent ]
I lost my forward slash (none / 0) (#23)
by roam on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 05:18:01 PM EST

Are they like hamsters?
Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman

[ Parent ]
Recycled (4.77 / 9) (#25)
by Sunir on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 06:12:44 PM EST

In order to help pay for the site, Rusty has made Scoop recycle all forward slashes appearing in unknown XML tags. These are collected in an underground cave where an army of grimy dwarfs smith them into tempered steel. This steel is then sent back to the surface by gyrocopter, where it is collected to be trucked to Nevada in unmarked refridgerated trucks. There, at a sekret military base (can you guess which fiftyone?) they are bent and folded two hundred times until they form unbreakable Samurai swords. Sharpened with x-ray lasers, these swords can defeat even the swashiest of swashbucklin' extraterrestrials.

Sadly, due to inflation and the Communist engineered dot.com bomb, Rusty only makes one franc per slash. Ever since the euro displaced the franc, this has meant severe belt-tightening at Ranch Rusty, and so he's been selling a lot of blood lately. You might notice the dizziness from his comments.

But you didn't hear this from me. Remember, there is no k5 cabal. wink, wink

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

Interesting (5.00 / 2) (#32)
by roam on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 08:37:44 PM EST

I thought it was because I should have chosen 'plain text' instead of 'html formatted'... I had no idea about the dwarves, thank you for this rare glimpse into the inner workings of k5.

Are they like hamsters?
Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman

[ Parent ]
Rethink term? (1.00 / 2) (#21)
by innerlemming on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 05:14:57 PM EST

Genicons...genitals...heh heh...

Sorry. But wasn't anyone else thinking that?


*sigh* there's one in every community... (1.00 / 1) (#24)
by Adam Theo on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 05:27:57 PM EST

j/k :-)

although for note, nope, i sure as hell hadn't thought of it before you... :)
-- "A computer geek free-market socialist patriotic American Buddhist."
[ Parent ]
*smirk* (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by innerlemming on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 07:00:05 PM EST

well, I volunteer answering sex-ed questions from teenagers, so my mind is not always in the freshest places. ;]

[ Parent ]

MSN genicons (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by spiralx on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 06:17:59 PM EST

They're great IMO. If you're talking you can pull faces at each other, and the sad smiley :'( is so melodramatic and overblown it's hilarious. Plus you can always lead your army of demons, vampire bats and zombies when you get bored with actually talking to somebody (I don't know why MS decided to have a demon picture), or just play smiley snap.

OTOH I turned them off in Trillian, because they're crap there.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

I believe Trillian smileys are skinnable, too... (none / 0) (#48)
by nstenz on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 07:55:12 PM EST

...so a different skin could actually give you decent smilies. Go have a look.

[ Parent ]
Indifferent (5.00 / 5) (#27)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 06:18:37 PM EST

I'm indifferent when it comes to cute icons, but we have to accept that most people seem to want them. Most people also say, "It's so easy to use, no wonder it's number one." But that's besides the point. Most people are also morons.

I guess what I'm saying is, many things that we may consider obnoxious do become part of the culture.. I'm sure English teachers cringe while they overhear conversations between the grammatically impaired. In the same way, I may nod in disappointment when my 12 year old cousin IM's "LOL, GTG luv u" but it's just something I have to live with. Many people have said they simply don't like the 'genicons' idea. They have two choices, then: they can choose not to associate with the AOL crowd, or they can learn to tolerate the dumb cute-isms. My guess is people eventually learn to live with it, and form some kind of common ground.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

The primary advantage of XML (none / 0) (#38)
by Therac-25 on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 10:50:29 PM EST

... seems to be that it would make it easier for the transport to convert it to the appropriate network's genicon protocol. That is, Yahoo and MS likely send different stuff over the wire to generate the funky genicons. Jabber generally deals with that in the transports on the server, and it would be messy to have to fuck with plain text in the transport. Even though the transport is going to have to fuck with incoming MSN and Yahoo messages, there's no need to give one more of a headache than nessacary.

However, the idea of the image coming off of a central server is stupid. Store the images locally in the client, and either access them directly, or if you have to use your xhtml, then use a damn file:// url. I'd rather not have to wait for smileys to load.

The real problem here is not what protocol to use, but how the user chooses an icon. I'm partial to the UBB-ish :icon: format. With an XML approach, different jabber clients could use a different interface to their icons, or even allow you to select which one you like. So if I chose MSN-mode, the client would look for (Y), and UBB mode would be :thumbsup:. The client would also not have to worry about munging incoming messages -- the transport would take care of translating incoming MSN messages, and the jabber messages would already be in the correct format.

Using XML, the client is only responsbile for the interface that the user uses to generate the icons, and the transport worries about the compatability translations.

Or something like that. Seems like the better way to do things.

"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
XML Entities? (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by J'raxis on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 12:24:19 AM EST

How about XML entities? &smiley; and so on. See ISO8879 for the official ones (these are typically used for non-ASCII characters like &eacute; or &mdash;), but you could invent a set for the IM client to use. These are easily human-readable and could be parsed out as if they were plain text with the regexp:
but they’re also legitimate XML, so if full-fledged XML is ever implemented for other reasons, they’d fit right in. I think you can even substitute whole tag-blocks in DTD entity definitions:
<!ENTITY smiley "<img src='smiley.gif' />">
— The &Raxis;

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

2 problems (none / 0) (#49)
by nstenz on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 08:09:40 PM EST

  1. Too hard to type - &ANYTHING; is not easy to type. Anyone trying to make displayable HTML/XML for K5 knows that.
  2. Too hard to read - Same reason. <foo>     BLAH.

[ Parent ]
Bah! (none / 0) (#51)
by J'raxis on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 01:37:18 AM EST

I… type these things — “all” “the” “time.” (Check the HTML source). I also fail to see how typing &foo; would be harder than :foo: or (foo) like the article’s plaintext examples.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

The ampersand... (none / 0) (#52)
by nstenz on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 01:25:03 PM EST

...is on the type row. That makes it harder for me to type.

I type :::::::::::::: all day long. My pinky sits on that key.


[ Parent ]

Correction: the TOP row. (none / 0) (#53)
by nstenz on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 01:25:36 PM EST

Preview is useless if you don't read slowly, eh?

[ Parent ]
(foo) (none / 0) (#54)
by J'raxis on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 12:25:19 AM EST

MSN messenger apparently uses parentheses, and those are right next to the ampersand. And the semicolon is the colon key without the shift. So &foo; would be a bit easier than both (foo) and :foo:

— The &Raxis;

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Point taken. (none / 0) (#55)
by nstenz on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 02:06:09 AM EST

However, I never liked all of those different keys I had to hit using the finger that generally rests on the J key. I find it more comfortable to keep that finger where it is and reach for the ( and ).

Ok, I admit it... & just looks ugly.

[ Parent ]

Meh (none / 0) (#56)
by J'raxis on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 03:44:58 AM EST

But we’re talking about something that’s to be replaced with an image, right? It’s something that is easily parsable by a regexp if we’re working with plain text, and if the protocol is ever switched over to XML, it can be handled by a standard XML parser. You’d only see the things as &foo, I’d assume, if you can set the client to not show the images, or if you’re looking at some kind of log or plaintext transcript.

— The <Raxis>

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Overloaded-text version damages Net culture (4.80 / 5) (#43)
by Hizonner on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 01:03:25 AM EST

I'm more worried about what you'll do to emoticons than about what you'll do to genicons. I don't know what you've already done (sorry, I hate chat and don't use it), but I think something important is being missed here.

TEXT emoticons are a unique part of Net culture. They arose out of the limitations of the ASCII character set, and they are tightly tied to the parts of Net culture that grew up when that set was the only game around. Emoticons have a history, and a set of associations, that form a cultural context of their own. Using them conveys something.

Typing a traditional emoticon identifies you with a venerable part of Net culture. People care about that sort of thing. It seems trivial, but connotations and cultural associations are important to people. If you're building a system to let people communicate, you need to account for the fact that people do attach importance to things like this.

In other words, ":-)" does not mean the same thing as <little yellow smiley>". If you make it impossible to send ":-)" and have it actually show up, unaltered, on the recipient's screen, then you're not adding a new option for communication; you're taking one away.

It seems to me that the XML option enriches the system, by giving people new choices about how they communicate. On the other hand, replacing certain "magic" strings with icons impoverishes the system, by taking away a mode of expression. I happen to think it's architecturally ugly, but I also think it's culturally unwise.

... and I wonder if you're not seeing some extra vehemence from people based on that.

ReasonsToHateAOL&MSN++; (none / 0) (#44)
by Skwirl on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 05:13:25 AM EST

Typing a traditional emoticon identifies you with a venerable part of Net culture. People care about that sort of thing. It seems trivial, but connotations and cultural associations are important to people. If you're building a system to let people communicate, you need to account for the fact that people do attach importance to things like this.
Those bastards stole the only culture I ever identified with. =(

"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]
The problem with IM-emoticons (none / 0) (#46)
by wocky on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 02:58:51 PM EST

Despite the novelty of having my IM turn my good-ole emoticons in genitalicons or whatever you call them, I still choose to stick with my faithful parenthesis and dashes at the end of the day.

The problem is: unless you use a monospaced font, they usually look like doody. Though I configured my ICQ to use the courier font, I have no say on the font it'll be displayed in on the other side. This is true for the basic :-) but moreso for my preferred emoticon: the basic 'colon-closing parenthesis' :)

The answer could certainly be to have my IM turn the :-) sequence into a .GIF of the exact sequence rendered in courier! :)

As a sidenote, I don't know if it was a local practice or what, but in the Argentinian branch of Fidonet we used a long sequence of parenthesis to emphasize or laughter, as in:
for something really funny.

I've done that. (none / 0) (#50)
by nstenz on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 08:16:03 PM EST

The answer could certainly be to have my IM turn the :-) sequence into a .GIF of the exact sequence rendered in courier! :)
Oh, how sad am I? I like to do web pages in Arial, Tahoma, or some other decently-displayable font, but they smoosh the : and the ) together. I usually use =), but some fonts have the = waaaay offset above the ), which just sucks. One time I used another font to make a .gif smiley rather than bother with <font face="foo">:)<font>, especially since the font wasn't very popular at the time.

[ Parent ]
Genicons for the People | 56 comments (46 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!