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:-)
The (Unintentional) Birth and Evolution of
a Successful International “Brand”
Scott E. Fahlman
Research Professor
Lang...
The Internet (ARPA net) in 1982
March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 2
Computing Environment at CMU, 1982
One of the three top universities for
Computer Science in the world!
● Two big time-sha...
Flame Wars
March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 4
● Sarcastic post, seen by many.
● One reader thinks it’s ser...
Tech-Nerd Humor…
● What if the elevator cable snapped, sending it into free-fall?
– Would a pigeon in the elevator keep fl...
My Contribution…
● I thought this would amuse the few people following this discussion, and
then it would quickly be forgo...
It Started to Spread…
● Within a week, many people at CMU were using this.
● In less than a month, it had reached labs and...
… And Kept on Spreading
● New universities joined the network, a few at a time.
● The military ARPAnet became the civilian...
Did I Really Invent the Emoticon?
● It depends on your definition.
● Someone else invented the term “emoticon”.
● There we...
Mutations…
• The “noseless” or “frog” variants: :) and :(
• Some people created whole books of clever text
emoticons:
;-) ...
Why did the :-) “go viral” and last
30+ years?
I’m not a marketing wizard, but some ideas:
● It filled a (small) need: A v...
Smiles Are Powerful
March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 12
Not Only Humans
March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 13
How Has :-) Changed My Life?
● Professionally, not much. This was 10 minutes of silliness in
a 40-year career of cutting-e...
Check These People Out | Scott E. Fahlman
Editorial from L'uomo Vogue Magazine,
January 2011
Lessons
Nothing very profound here…
● Symbols (“brands”) are more likely to spread and survive if
they are intuitive and i...
The End
For more info, Google “Fahlman smiley lore”.
March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 17
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:-) The (Unintentional) Birth and Evolution of a Successful International "Brand"

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Do you know how the :-) and :-( emoticons were born?
See this great WCFDavos presentation by Scott Fahlman - the father of the smiley.
- How and why did these symbols and their descendants become popular and spread to every country in the world, used by ordinary people perhaps a billion times every day? - How did they evolve into the new shapes and styles that we see today? And how did 10 minutes of silly online conversation give rise to a lasting international "brand" still growing and spreading after over 30 years?
Scott E. Fahlman, Father of the first smiley emoticon in 1982, computer science expert at Carnegie Mellon University (USA), widely recognized as an authority on artificial intelligence and knowledge representation, provides the answer.
Scott is currently working on Scone, a knowledge-base system designed to support human-like "common sense" reasoning and natural language understanding in intelligent software systems.

Publié dans : Médias sociaux
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:-) The (Unintentional) Birth and Evolution of a Successful International "Brand"

  1. 1. :-) The (Unintentional) Birth and Evolution of a Successful International “Brand” Scott E. Fahlman Research Professor Language Technologies Institute School of Computer Science Carnegie Mellon University
  2. 2. The Internet (ARPA net) in 1982 March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 2
  3. 3. Computing Environment at CMU, 1982 One of the three top universities for Computer Science in the world! ● Two big time-sharing machines, 100 users each. ● Most faculty and students used these ugly text-only terminals. ● Many faculty had terminals at home, connected by 300 to 1200 bit per second phone lines. – Compare to today’s home internet: typically 3 to 10 million bits per second. ● Text-only Email, local and remote. ● We had social media! (Text-only bulletin boards on various topics.) March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 3
  4. 4. Flame Wars March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 4 ● Sarcastic post, seen by many. ● One reader thinks it’s serious. ● Angry complaint. ● Sarcastic reply. ● Repeat cycle for days… ● Boring and annoying for all!
  5. 5. Tech-Nerd Humor… ● What if the elevator cable snapped, sending it into free-fall? – Would a pigeon in the elevator keep flying? – Would a candle go out? – What would a puddle of mercury do? Turn into a sphere and rise? – You’re in a falling elevator! Is that all you have to worry about??? ● Because of a recent physics experiment, the leftmost elevator has been contaminated with mercury. Also some fire damage. ● Not funny! The elevators are fine and there is no mercury spill. ● Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (*) in the subject field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke. ● Surely everyone will agree that "&" is the funniest character on the keyboard. It looks like a jolly fat man in convulsions of laughter. March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 5
  6. 6. My Contribution… ● I thought this would amuse the few people following this discussion, and then it would quickly be forgotten. ● I didn’t save a copy. 20 years later, we finally found the original message on back-up tapes in a warehouse. March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 6 19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c> I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(
  7. 7. It Started to Spread… ● Within a week, many people at CMU were using this. ● In less than a month, it had reached labs and universities in California, and variations were appearing: (:-) for messages dealing with bicycle helmets @= for messages dealing with nuclear war <:-) for dumb questions oo for somebody's head-lights are on messages o>-<|= for messages of interest to women ~= a candle, to annotate flaming message ● But that was as far as ARPAnet went. It could go no further. ● I thought people would get bored, and it would all disappear in a month or two. March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 7
  8. 8. … And Kept on Spreading ● New universities joined the network, a few at a time. ● The military ARPAnet became the civilian Internet. ● Connections to research/academic nets in UK, Japan, Europe… ● Wherever the Internet went, Email was sent immediately. Inevitably, some messages had :-) in them. ● At first it was all computer people, academics, and military. In the 1990’s the internet suddenly burst into the homes of regular people – and so did the :-). March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 8
  9. 9. Did I Really Invent the Emoticon? ● It depends on your definition. ● Someone else invented the term “emoticon”. ● There were earlier things, such as =) for “tongue in cheek”. ● I never claim to have invented “the emoticon”, only the :-) and :-( as used online, and maybe the idea of making a face sideways. ● We could actually watch this spread out from my original post. ● My candidate for the first emoticon in English: ! (Pre-dates Gutenberg) March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 9
  10. 10. Mutations… • The “noseless” or “frog” variants: :) and :( • Some people created whole books of clever text emoticons: ;-) :-P *<:-)# =|:-(# +<:-) :-O %-O >”^^^^^^^- • East Asian versions – right side up. (^_^) d(^_^)b (T_T) • And then these things appeared, some animated, even pornographic ones. March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 10
  11. 11. Why did the :-) “go viral” and last 30+ years? I’m not a marketing wizard, but some ideas: ● It filled a (small) need: A very easy way to say “I’m only joking”, “I’m happy”, “I’m serious”, or “I’m unhappy”. ● It’s free. If people had to pay or ask permission to use it, nobody would use it. ● There’s an “in group” effect: Look, I know the secrets of the Internet! ● A smile is immediately recognized by every human culture, across every language. Even shallow emotion can be powerful. March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 11
  12. 12. Smiles Are Powerful March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 12
  13. 13. Not Only Humans March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 13
  14. 14. How Has :-) Changed My Life? ● Professionally, not much. This was 10 minutes of silliness in a 40-year career of cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence Research. ● But sometimes I get invited to nice places like Davos and meet new people. ● It’s fun to be famous for something. ● Lots of radio and press interviews. ● The Carnegie Mellon PR people love this story. ● The most interesting thing so far was to get a full-page picture in L’Uomo Vogue. So I’m now an authority on fashion. :-) March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 14
  15. 15. Check These People Out | Scott E. Fahlman Editorial from L'uomo Vogue Magazine, January 2011
  16. 16. Lessons Nothing very profound here… ● Symbols (“brands”) are more likely to spread and survive if they are intuitive and immediately recognizable. – If they tap into some universal human emotion, that's even better. – A bit of whimsy and identification with an "in group” also helps. ● You never know what little comment or idea is going to take off. – So save a copy! ● Once your creation is out there, you can't control how it changes and how it is used. – Sometimes I know how Dr. Frankenstein felt...March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 16
  17. 17. The End For more info, Google “Fahlman smiley lore”. March 21, 2014 Scott E. Fahlman <sef@cs.cmu.edu> 17

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