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The smileys as a mass phenomenon
With the Internet, the smiley faces and emoticons also appeared as a new phenomenon. The smilies cover a basic human need. Because with their help emotions can be represented simply, without these must be described pedantically. basic emotions or the attitude of the author to a topic can be expressed with a simple smiley. The emoticon meaning has many facets. The smileys were invented by Scott Fahlman, then a student and now a professor of computer science in the USA. In 1982, in an early electronic discussion forum of Carnegie Mellon University, he used the characters :-) and :-( and suggested converting them graphically using computer means. Each smiley face should become an image by coding, each smiley face should appear as a converted image at the receiver. But it was still a long way, until this idea around the emoticon meaning could assert itself. The pioneers of the Internet age began about in the 1990s with the spread of the Internet, character combinations such as :-), ;-) or :-O to string together to say through a smiley face that they are happy, see somewhat ironically or perceive with astonishment. The “New Economy” quickly took up this trend and transformed the signs into the corresponding images. Smilies were a purchase argument with which the first chat systems like ICQ or Skype tried to outdo each other with new and more sophisticated smileys. With the mobile Internet, the new possibilities to exchange messages via SMS short messages or to form so-called Online-Communities in groups like Whatsapp, the smileys got another boost. Due to modern user behavior and the need to communicate quickly everywhere, smilies once again gained in importance. Anyone who is sitting in a café with friends and has just received a message, for example, would like to respond quickly in order to be able to devote himself to the “real” conversations in the café again. A simple smiley face is just right.
Smileys versus Emojis
Of course, the basic idea of smileys was also known in Japan, which was enthusiastic about technology. The Japanese smiley faces developed in Japan initially independently of their western variant. The Japanese Shigetaka Kurita is considered the inventor of the Emojis. In principle, smileys could also be called emojis and vice versa. But there are some differences in the Japanese way to today’s emoticon. On the one hand, earlier than Internet users in the West, the Japanese began to describe not only emotions, but also images with key combinations and later to convert them graphically. For example, the emoticon meaning :*> stands for a cat. In addition, the Japanese were pioneers in creating emoticon meaning not only expression images that were read from left to right. They also made horizontal of them such as the key combination (²_²) for a woman with long eyelashes or (*_*) for an extremely happy person who shines with his heart. Basically, the Japanese version of the smileys was characterized by a higher complexity and a greater joy of improvisation compared to its western counterparts. This was due to the Japanese enthusiasm for technology and the stronger imprint of thinking in pictures. Similar to China, the Japanese spelling is also oriented towards pictorial expression. The Japanese have set standards in the field of smileys. With their complex and loving emojis they inspired their colleagues in the West. Internet users gratefully accepted the suggestions from the Far East and downloaded the graphic images from Japan for their own chat channels. As competition stimulates business, Western companies of the “New Economy” have expanded their smiley face offer accordingly in order to be able to keep up with the competition from Japan.
The emoticons as the next step
Smileys, emojis and emoticons are often equated. Of course, all three terms stand for conveying basic moods and feelings visually. But strictly speaking, text faces and emojis are the key combinations that without technical conversion. So the smiley face stands for a smiling person as a smiley face for the”:-)”. One text faces is already the conversion of the smiley face. Le Lenny Face” ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) is also famous. There are already many variants of this. These lenny faces usually consist of three components. The eyes, mouth/nose and ears. The Lenny Face can be used to express a wide variety of emotions. When the offers of providers to already provide a wide range of smileys graphically converted were not yet widespread, the early internet users with great dedication and passion independently developed new key combinations and thus extended the “vocabulary” of smileys and text faces more and more. It was a very creative age in the early days of the Internet. Today, as the providers of various messenger and chat channels take over this work, the visual icons are already available to users. You no longer need to use the corresponding key combination, but can generate a prefabricated image with one click. Smileys and text faces are the key combinations that stand for the respective message. An emoji is already the transformed image. It kind of repressed the old smiley face.
Unicode and ASCII
Unicode and ASCII are two technical systems used by New Economy companies to convert any smiley face into a new image. Unicode has established itself as the international standard for character sets that are interpreted by computers as commands. With this uniform system, Unicode makes its contribution so that users from all over the world can use the same smileys and text faces with their respective emoticon meaning on their systems. Each text face meaning is converted by Unicode into a corresponding image. The database of the system already contains about 250,000 characters and as reserve over 1,000,000 characters. So there is enough space in the database for almost any text face, no matter how demanding. The strength of Unicode lies not only in its standardization but also in its complexity, which ensures that almost every need can be met and almost every smiley face can be graphically converted. ASCII in turn stands for “American Standard Code of Information Interchange”. The 7-bit code was initially used to display and transmit data. Today, the more powerful system of 8-bit code is used. For its work, the system uses the Roman alphabet, the Arabic number system and numerous punctuation and special characters. Their combination makes the possibilities for new commands and conversions almost inexhaustible. It has proven to be a efficient system for any form of them.
Why smileys always look different
If you use the text faces from your smiley face set, you will notice that they always look different, depending on whether you are on Facebook, Whatsapp or Skype. Even if you use different smartphones, this effect can occur. This is because vendors use different operating systems. The codes for smilies have been standardized by Unicode and ASCII. When interpreting the codes, however, each operating system goes a different way. In other words, the developers have different ideas about how best to implement the emoticon meaning. Of course, this phenomenon is not unproblematic. For example, a study by the University of Minnesota found that the same smiley face can be perceived differently depending on the transformation. Even the original Miley, the smiling face, can be perceived as either sincere or cynical, depending on the implementation. So even the most innocent text faces today can cause serious misunderstandings.