Monday, December 1, 2008

I Wrote a Three-Word Poem, Called "I Don't Know"

As a school assignment we had to redesign a system of pictograms (e.g. the symbols for the different sports in the Olympics). I've been working with emoticons, because I think it's a completely preposterous idea to begin with. The new system is meant as a critique of the virtual absence of feelings on the web, which I think is a result of the sheer amount of communication we undertake. It takes time to verbally explain a complex state or feeling to someone who can't see it firsthand. And so we don't - or even worse, resort to crude graphic symbols. These symbols parasite on the communication until they completely take over - one day your best friend will just send you a yellow circle. It's said that a picture says more than a thousand words, but it this case a sentence may say more than ten pictures. This is because the symbol eventually becomes identified with the code word you use to create it.
E.g. this will mean just mean :unsure: (providing you know the correct code!) without encompassing all the possible nuances of uncertainty or indecision. The new system has two parameters: level of engagement (0 to 255) and positivity/negativity (-255 to 255). So you would enter something like :234,-143:, and the impossibility of discerning anything but the most dramatic of differences will result in a re-evaluation of its use. Wouldn't it be better just to take a bit of time to explain how you really feel? Because people do care, whatever you may think.
How much does this actually tell you?