[AI] sentiment on the computer screen

rambabu adikesavalu rambabu_arb at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 21 12:13:36 EDT 2007

Hai Everyone,
the following article that appeared in The Hindu's
Opinion page on 19th sep. is very interesting!!
Sentiment on the computer screen: saying it with
            Carnegie Mellon University, from where it
spread, celebrates 25th 
            anniversary of the ‘smiley face’ today 

      For sentiments that would be difficult to convey
      Have become integral to personal exchanges

      PITTSBURGH: It was a serious contribution to the
electronic lexicon. 
      Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon
University Professor Scott E. 
      Fahlman says, he was the first to use three
keystrokes — a colon followed 
      by a hyphen and a parenthesis — as a horizontal
“smiley face” in a 
      computer message. 
      To mark the anniversary on Wednesday, Professor
Fahlman and colleagues are 
      starting a student contest for innovation in
      person-to-person communication. The Smiley
Award, sponsored by Yahoo, 
      carries a $500 cash prize. 
      Language experts say the smiley face and other
emotional icons, known as 
      emoticons, have given people a concise way in
e-mail and other electronic 
      messages of expressing sentiments that otherwise
would be difficult to 
      Professor Fahlman posted the emoticon in a
message to an online electronic 
      bulletin board at 11-44 a.m. on September 19,
1982, during a discussion 
      about the limits of online humour and how to
denote comments meant to be 
      taken lightly. 
      “I propose the following character sequence for
joke markers: :-),” he 
      wrote. “Read it sideways.” 
      The suggestion gave computer users a way to
convey humour or positive 
      feelings with a smile — or the opposite
sentiments by reversing the 
      parenthesis to form a frown. 
      Carnegie Mellon said Professor Fahlman’s smileys
spread from its campus to 
      other universities, then businesses and
eventually around the world as the 
      Internet gained popularity. 
      “I’ve never seen any hard evidence that the :-)
sequence was in use before 
      my original post, and I’ve never run into anyone
who actually claims to 
      have invented it before I did,” Professor
Fahlman wrote on the 
      university’s Web page dedicated to the smiley
face. “But it’s always 
      possible that someone else had the same idea —
it’s a simple and obvious 
      idea, after all.” 
      Variations, such as the “wink” that uses a
semicolon, emerged later. And 
      today people can hardly imagine using computer
chat programs that do not 
      translate keystrokes into colourful graphics,
said Ryan Stansifer, a 
      computer science Professor at the Florida
Institute of Technology. “Now we 
      have so much power, we don’t settle for a
colon-dash-paren,” he said. “You 
      want the smiley face, so all these chatting
softwares have to have them.” 
      “It has been fascinating to watch this
phenomenon grow from a little 
      message I tossed off in 10 minutes to something
that has spread all around 
      the world,” Professor Fahlman was quoted as
saying in a university 
      statement. “I sometimes wonder how many millions
of people have typed 
      these characters, and how many have turned their
heads to one side to view 
      a smiley, in the 25 years since this all
      Amy Weinberg, a University of Maryland linguist
and computer scientist, 
      said emoticons such as the smiley were
“definitely creeping into the way, 
      both in business and academia, people
communicate.” She added: “In terms 
      of things that language processing does, you
have to take them into 
      account. If you’re doing almost anything... and
you have a sentence that 
      says ‘I love my boss’ and then there’s a smiley
face, you better not take 
      that seriously.” 
      Emoticons reflect the likely original purpose of
language — to enable 
      people to express emotion, said Clifford Nass, a
Professor of 
      communications at Stanford University. The
emotion behind a written 
      sentence may be hard to discern because emotion
is often conveyed through 
      tone of voice, he said. 
      “What emoticons do is essentially provide a
mechanism to transmit emotion 
      when you don’t have the voice,” he said. In some
ways they give people 
      “the ability not to think as hard about the
words they’re using.” — AP 

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