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Technical Workshop: Summary

Technical Workshop: Summary

Here is Ron Goldman's summary of the draft pattern from the preceding pages:

This is a draft of a pattern from a pattern language for designing programs like email and instant messaging in which people communicate textually with each other via computer. The pattern is written in Alexandrian format.

This pattern comes from a part of the pattern language that focuses on the quality of conversation and, in particular, intimate communication and the need to convey the writer's emotions. This happens naturally through body language and tone of voice when two people talk face-to-face. The problem is that conveying emotions is difficult to do in words alone and takes a special skill that many writers are not good at. It is especially hard in quickly written or short notes—media in which the clear expression of the writer's mood may be most needed to avoid a misunderstanding.

The solution given is to indicate emotions via graphics by drawing a “smiley face” like :-) using characters from the regular keyboard, or by drawing an animated character with different expressions, or via regular text set off somehow to indicate its meta-nature.

Eleven sample emoticons are shown along with their meaning. The first use of a smiley face in email is attributed to Scott Fahlman in 1982.

The pattern concludes with a remark that we need to build computer systems appropriate for the human condition and that we should observe where our tools fail and improve them.


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