Is Rubics Cube Art ?

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Heiko Recktenwald

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Oct 21, 1994, 1:55:49 PM10/21/94
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The discussions in this group seem to be much better than many in the
so called art groups.

Hamlet, Stockhausen, Rubics Cube are nothing, if you don't want them to
be something to you. I have a Cube, but I never tried to play it. I like
it as a piece of this century, like Mondrian or Richard Sappers Tizio.

Stuff that is laying around.

In context.

Saw Stockhausen two times in the last years, had been to his concerts
quite often in the seventies. It was like a good piece of bread with butter,
tapemusic, the sound, the real thing, fun. I live next to the museum, where it
happened. Lexe came and told me.. Sound = Vibration.

I hate games, maybe I try downloading NetHack, read the README today. Radical
Castle. On Plus. I like the box, so there is sympathie for the game. My last
Directorfiles where mostly movable sprites whithout any explanation, as in
real life, sometimes hidden sentences of Clausewitz, loops of K. Lorentz
drawings of dogs, loops of words, nothing laying around than a floppy.
I cannot understand people playing Myth or SimCity or other complicated
boredom. But I am happy, that in this group are people, who try to measure
the digital stuff after the measures, that are common amongst cultivated
people and keep develloping.

Byron as a bulb. Fiction???

Heiko

David Baggett

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Oct 23, 1994, 11:06:42 PM10/23/94
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In article <170575365...@ibm.rhrz.uni-bonn.de>,
Heiko Recktenwald <UZS...@ibm.rhrz.uni-bonn.de> wrote:

>Hamlet, Stockhausen, Rubics Cube are nothing, if you don't want them to
>be something to you.

True. The issue is really this: how *hard* do you have to try to make each
be something for you?

Acted out (as intended), Hamlet is, I think, very accessible. You have to
work very hard to understand Stockhausen. Or you like it despite the fact
that you don't understand it -- or you like the fact that it sounds chaotic
*because* you don't understand it.

As with the Rubik's Cube, I'd say this is a different kind of appreciation
entirely. So it is difficult for me to compare the art of Hamlet to the
art of Stockhausen (if there is any).

>I cannot understand people playing Myth or SimCity or other complicated
>boredom.

Stockhausen's works strike *me* as complicated boredom. But perhaps that
is just because I don't understand them. If there is anything there to
understand, I have certainly missed it. Myst and SimCity are different --
there is little there to understand. (This does not mean they are not good
games, though I do not think Myst is a good game.)

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.
ADVENTIONS: We make Kuul text adventures! Email for a catalog of releases.

Damien P. Neil

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Oct 24, 1994, 1:42:15 AM10/24/94
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In article <38f8c2...@life.ai.mit.edu>,
David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:

>As with the Rubik's Cube, I'd say this is a different kind of appreciation
>entirely. So it is difficult for me to compare the art of Hamlet to the
>art of Stockhausen (if there is any).

I think a major problem in this debate is that everyone brings his own
definition of `art' into the discussion. It seems to be rather silly to
talk about art in IF, when we can't even agree on what art *is*.

The sense in which I usually mean art, incidentally, might be expressed
as `created beauty'. (As opposed to natural beauty -- an orchid isn't
art, unless you feel like bringing religion into the discussion.) By this
definition, an elegant piece of code can be considered art. Of course,
this raises the question of what beauty is -- a question which I dodge
by saying that beauty is whatever you want it to be.

The definition of art that you use seems to be something like `a work
which conveys emotion'. (I realize that I'm putting words into your
mouth here -- this definition is my interpretation of what you have been
saying. If this isn't what you meant, I apologize for misunderstanding.)

I'm not quite certain what I'm trying to say here. I guess I just wanted
to say that I don't think it really matters what everyone considers art
to be -- as long as nobody expects everyone to use the same definition.
Sometimes it becomes all to easy to assume that every word has to have a
single fixed meaning that everyone can use. This strikes me as a dangerous
assumption -- human language is not the same as computer language.

>Stockhausen's works strike *me* as complicated boredom. But perhaps that
>is just because I don't understand them. If there is anything there to
>understand, I have certainly missed it. Myst and SimCity are different --
>there is little there to understand. (This does not mean they are not good
>games, though I do not think Myst is a good game.)

Out of curiosity, why not? I've only had one opportunity to play Myst,
and it wasn't under the best of curcumstances, but it struck me as being
an excellent game.

- Damien

David Baggett

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Oct 27, 1994, 12:55:00 PM10/27/94
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In article <38fhfo$q...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>,

Damien P. Neil <dam...@b63519.student.cwru.edu> wrote:

>It seems to be rather silly to talk about art in IF, when we can't even
>agree on what art *is*.

But this is certainly no reason to dismiss the discussion of art in IF as
silly -- people make plenty of progress in other fields of criticism where
the "art" question is just as poignant. Is it silly to talk about art in
music, or painting, or movies? I certainly don't think it is.

>The sense in which I usually mean art, incidentally, might be expressed as
>`created beauty'.

Many people seem to be willing to label anything that strikes their fancy
"art". I think this misses a rather important aspect of art -- that it
should in some sense transcend the goings-on of the day (popular culture &
fads, current political issues) and thereby affect people who *aren't*
living in the author's time and place.

Some beautiful works do this, and some don't. There's an enormous amount
of contemporary music that strikes my fancy -- but will these pieces still
do so when their original context is forgotten? Lots of early 80's popular
music was really catchy -- very clever and new-sounding; lots of
experimentation with timbre. But much of it now sounds dated, because its
success depended on its novelty, which has worn off.

We've all heard "Variations on pasting sampled sounds together in amusing
ways" a zillion times by now, so this technique alone is no longer a hook.
Yet there are a few musicians who've used the technique as a *tool* to make
works of lasting beauty -- works that still move us despite the passing of
the sampled sounds fad. (Well, it's passed as far as I'm concerned, at
least. :)

This is what I'm trying to get at when I say something is not art because
it is part of a passing fad -- interesting at the time, but not out of
context. Of course, this is only my personal view, and of course I have no
way to "prove" that this view is right, wrong, useful, or useless.
Furthermore, it is the public, not the critics, who ultimately determine
the place of each work in the repertory. Labeling contemporary works "art"
or "not art" is speculative at best. This should not stop us from trying
to give concrete reasons supporting our conclusions.

Think of IF. What works do we really think will still seem beautiful in
100, or 500 years? Colossal Cave probably counts, just because a genre's
"primoridal soup" is always somewhat compelling despite any weaknesses.
But what else?

>By this definition, an elegant piece of code can be considered art.

Yes, and I'd say that's evidence that your definition does not really
capture what you actually want to be talking about here.

>Of course, this raises the question of what beauty is -- a question which I
>dodge by saying that beauty is whatever you want it to be.

This is a useless dodge. I can define as beautiful "anything you think is
ugly," which is clearly absurd. Yes, tastes vary. But there is common
ground -- almost everyone can agree that certain works are beautiful --
even those people who wouldn't normally go out of their way to experience
the works. (Easy examples: Beethoven's Fifth, most of Monet's paintings.)

>The definition of art that you use seems to be something like `a work which
>conveys emotion'.

I think "a work with (nearly) universal appeal that elegantly communicates
something significant" is probably closer to what I have in mind.

>I'm not quite certain what I'm trying to say here. I guess I just wanted
>to say that I don't think it really matters what everyone considers art
>to be -- as long as nobody expects everyone to use the same definition.

This is a nice, politcally correct, hurt-no-one, egalitarian, anti-snobbish
way of looking at it, and I admit that there is merit to such a view, since
historically many significant artists have been misunderstood and even
scorned by their "Establishment" -- and critics historically have been a
pretty idiotic lot. :)

But little useful anlysis of anything can arise out of this definition of
art, so in that sense I think it's not so good.

>Out of curiosity, why [don't you think Myst is a good game]? I've only had


>one opportunity to play Myst, and it wasn't under the best of
>curcumstances, but it struck me as being an excellent game.

I thought that far too many of the puzzles amounted to "enter the magic
number into the pseudo-high-tech machine". As soon as I learned that I was
to count all the markers on the island and enter the sum into a little
thingy, I realized why it's very important to have *objects* that you can
carry around. (Yes, Myst has some, but not enough.)

It is a beautiful demo. But, IMHO, it is not a good game. When I played
it, I thought it would be exactly the sort of thing Wired (romantic
high-tech dilettantes; really knowledgeable about nothing) would love.
And, sure enough, they loved it. :)

In fact, it strikes me that Myst exemplifies many of my critcisms of
simulationist IF. Here we have a lavishly detailed (visually, at least)
environment (one could hardly imagine better) -- and the best part of the
"game" is wandering around looking at stuff. Few good puzzles, lame plot.
For me, this is one big yawn -- after seeing a few bits of eye candy, I've
had it.

As a work, Myst did some interesting things, but I'd say that it wasn't
very successful overall.

For an alternative that I think works much better, check out Ultima
Underworld I. Here is a game that combines some of the better aspects of
text-based IF puzzles with new kinds of puzzles that the 3D environment
allows. Yes, Ultima Underworld is still clumsy in many ways (too many
quests, quests too simple-minded, hackenyed fantasy story), but it the
gameplay is pretty darn good.

And I did enjoy SimCity (the other example cited by the first author)
immensely, and SimCity 2000 after that. Art? Not IMHO. But certainly
lots of fun. Nothing wrong with good clean fun. :)

Damien P. Neil

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Oct 27, 1994, 9:38:52 PM10/27/94
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In article <38om14...@life.ai.mit.edu>,
David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:

>But this is certainly no reason to dismiss the discussion of art in IF as
>silly -- people make plenty of progress in other fields of criticism where
>the "art" question is just as poignant. Is it silly to talk about art in
>music, or painting, or movies? I certainly don't think it is.

I'm not so certain about that, actually. Is there anything to be determined
by a discussion on which books are `art', for example? Is Joyce art? How
about Melville's _Moby Dick_? Tolkein? Generic Dragonlance Novel #563?

The problem, as I said, is that you're going to find that different people
define art in different ways. Which way is right? Yours? Mine? All of
them at once?

Now, a discussion, say, the use of first person narration in literature
can come up with many interesting ideas. Or perhaps a debate on how best
to pace the action in novels.

>Many people seem to be willing to label anything that strikes their fancy
>"art". I think this misses a rather important aspect of art -- that it
>should in some sense transcend the goings-on of the day (popular culture &
>fads, current political issues) and thereby affect people who *aren't*
>living in the author's time and place.

Is Melville's _Moby Dick_ not art, then? I'd say that most people today
won't get much of anything about it? How about Joyce? I sheepishly must
admit that I haven't read any of his work yet, but from what I understand,
even his contemporaries didn't understand his work.

You say that art should ``transcend the goings-on of the day''. What is
this, however, but shared context? Is it even possible to create a work
that can communicate between people with no shared context? Shakespeare
is still relevant today, but I see that as being because he wrote about
themes that are still part of the context of our life today. Would _Romeo
and Juliet_ (bad example, since the general story in that one wasn't
Shakespeare's invention) affect people in a hypothetical society in which
fueds are unknown? How about _A Merchant of Venice_ -- would people in
a perfect communism who don't even know what money is be able to appreciate
the relationship between Antonio and Shylock?

>Think of IF. What works do we really think will still seem beautiful in
>100, or 500 years? Colossal Cave probably counts, just because a genre's
>"primoridal soup" is always somewhat compelling despite any weaknesses.
>But what else?

If there is any justice in this world, which there isn't, A Mind Forever
Voyaging will be known. IMHO, of course.

>>By this definition, an elegant piece of code can be considered art.
>
>Yes, and I'd say that's evidence that your definition does not really
>capture what you actually want to be talking about here.

How can you say that, however? How can you tell me what I want to be
talking about?

This is why I don't like debates on whether something is or is not art --
everyone ends up talking about completely different things, and reading
things into what other people say that were not intended.

>This is a useless dodge. I can define as beautiful "anything you think is
>ugly," which is clearly absurd. Yes, tastes vary. But there is common
>ground -- almost everyone can agree that certain works are beautiful --
>even those people who wouldn't normally go out of their way to experience
>the works. (Easy examples: Beethoven's Fifth, most of Monet's paintings.)

Oh? Is rap beautiful? As you say, tastes vary.

>I think "a work with (nearly) universal appeal that elegantly communicates
>something significant" is probably closer to what I have in mind.

What is nearly universal appeal? What percentage of the population
needs to like a work for it to become art?

What is significant? Things you consider significant may be irrelevant
for another person, and vice versa.

>This is a nice, politcally correct, hurt-no-one, egalitarian, anti-snobbish
>way of looking at it, and I admit that there is merit to such a view, since
>historically many significant artists have been misunderstood and even
>scorned by their "Establishment" -- and critics historically have been a
>pretty idiotic lot. :)

<shudder> I never thought that I'd be called politically correct... :>

My argument is simply that there is no good definition of art. I don't
expect you or anyone else to share my opinions on what are is. It's just
that unless we can come up with a definition of art that everyone agrees
with, we won't be able to use the term in any significant manner. Since
I don't think there is such a definition, I'd rather use words other than
`art', which are less likely to be misunderstood.

>I thought that far too many of the puzzles amounted to "enter the magic
>number into the pseudo-high-tech machine". As soon as I learned that I was
>to count all the markers on the island and enter the sum into a little
>thingy, I realized why it's very important to have *objects* that you can
>carry around. (Yes, Myst has some, but not enough.)

Hmm.

I definately disagree with the argument that a game must have movable
objects to be good. If you have a puzzle that revolves around three
objects, does it really change the nature of the puzzle if the player
can move the objects in or out of his inventory, or from one room to
another?

>As a work, Myst did some interesting things, but I'd say that it wasn't
>very successful overall.

Well, I'd say the authors would disagree with you. :> If popularity
is any indicator of success, Myst is one of the most successful games
out there.

- Damien

David Baggett

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Oct 28, 1994, 12:55:44 AM10/28/94
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In article <38pknc$j...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>,

Damien P. Neil <dam...@b63519.student.cwru.edu> wrote:

>I'm not so certain about that, actually. Is there anything to be determined
>by a discussion on which books are `art', for example?

Perhaps there is little to be learned from a simple categorization of books
as "art" or "not art", but there are certainly many things to be learned
from analyses of works, and these analyses come back to this question again
and again.

Scenario: You claim that work X is great, I claim it's not. I say "but it
says nothing to me and its success crucially depends on the popularity of a
passing fad". You respond: "I really don't care -- it's enjoyable". I
then cite aspects of widely-acknowledged-to-be-great works in the genre,
and explain why I think those things are missing from work X. This kind of
dialogue is *useful*. It calls attention to important features of works --
artistic and otherwise -- that artists and enthusiasts alike can learn
from.

It seems to me that you're aruging that we might as well stare at each
other silently rather than talk about why we have great respect for things
like Hamlet and don't have great respect for most of the other plays
written in Elizabethan England. There are reasons, and they are
subjective, but enough people agree on a fundamental set of requirements
(or, at least, rules of thumb) for plays, that we can come to basic
conclusions about why the lesser works are indeed lesser works.

No, you will not prove such things -- analysis of art is not axiomatic like
mathematics is. But qualitative, subjective judgements are still very
useful if enough people who really understand the works can agree. And
sometimes the whole world is wrong, and it takes a generation or two for
the world to realize that it has made a poor judgement. This is still no
reason not to try to understand what makes some works better than others.
Every artist does this him/herself, perhaps subconciously. Otherwise, how
could the artist make judgements about his/her own works? What reason is
there to do something a particular way if you think everything that's out
there is good?

To say that it is impossible to define art or explain what makes some works
artistic and others weak seems defeatist to me.

>Is Joyce art? How about Melville's _Moby Dick_? Tolkein? Generic
>Dragonlance Novel #563?

You could answer each of these questions, and give *good* reasons to
support your claims. Dragonlance Novel #563 probably isn't art, because
it's hackneyed, and hackneyed things don't have lasting appeal.

>The problem, as I said, is that you're going to find that different people
>define art in different ways. Which way is right? Yours? Mine? All of
>them at once?

If people agree on some basic definitions, they can talk about art. And,
happily, this happens all the time in practice. Those people who can't
agree with the first group's definitions can either sit in corners sucking
their thumbs, or can start their own groups.

It doesn't really matter who is right or wrong in an absolute sense --
whatever that even means. It matters that art grows, and that future
generations will get as much "good stuff" (however that comes to be
defined) as past generations.

>Is Melville's _Moby Dick_ not art, then?

Why wouldn't it be? It's perfectly easy to get the basic point, and the
point is still relevant, and the poigniancy of the theme doesn't hinge on
the *details* of whale-hunting or anything else we might no longer identify
with.

Treasure Island, on the other, hasn't fared so well, because there's not
much to it beyond the details. (And no surprise -- it was never intended
to be anything more than a fun story for children, as far as I know.)

>I'd say that most people today won't get much of anything about it?

I don't know why you think that. It's pretty easy to follow; a bit
long-winded by today's standards, perhaps.

>How about Joyce? I sheepishly must admit that I haven't read any of his
>work yet, but from what I understand, even his contemporaries didn't
>understand his work.

Read _Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_. Not hard, not long. Pretty
good book. _Ulysses_ and _Finnegan's Wake_ -- sure, they're much more
difficult, and I'll happily admit to not getting a fraction of what Joyce
put into them. I really *do* think that this is a weakness of these works,
and you won't see me fervently arguing that they're great works of art for
just this reason.

Nevertheless, it's clear that there's something *there* waiting to be
excavated from the tortuous narrative. You could not say the same (I
suspect) of Random Dragonlance Novel #438. And a basic tenet many people
seem to accept is that works that are too simple to provoke much thought
are not likely to be of much artistic value. Bluntly put, if there's
nothing to it, why should anyone be significantly moved by it?

>You say that art should ``transcend the goings-on of the day''. What is
>this, however, but shared context? Is it even possible to create a work
>that can communicate between people with no shared context?

You are frustrating me by taking each of my claims and extending it to
absurdity. In practice, of course there has to be *some* shared context --
we assume that readers are human, that they still speak using human
language instead of communicating in binary, etc. etc. etc.

The point is that Hamlet doesn't depend on the reader's intimate knowledge
of Danish history for its success. It depends on the reader's knowledge of
the general concepts of monarchy and family, and it assumes significant
knowledge of social interactions. There's a tremendous difference here!
And, indeed, there are plenty of Elizabethan works that *do* depend on the
reader's knowledge of court politics at the time, or information about some
other "goings-on of the day". These works have failed to make any
significant impact on the Western world as a result.

Look at _Gulliver's Travels_. It seems to me that this work is less and
less successful as time goes on, because it is full of topical humor that
is completely lost on today's readers. I would say this is a weakness of
the work.

These are not universal truths, but they are valuable rules of thumb.

>How about _A Merchant of Venice_ -- would people in a perfect communism who
>don't even know what money is be able to appreciate the relationship
>between Antonio and Shylock?

Of course you can imagine situations where none of our art could be
understood. The question is "which works have staying power", not "which
works are immortal". It's unlikely that any work will be compelling to
people for all time.

>>Yes, and I'd say that's evidence that your definition does not really
>>capture what you actually want to be talking about here.
>

>How can you tell me what I want to be talking about?

I wrote "you" in the sense of "we" or "one" here.

>This is why I don't like debates on whether something is or is not art --
>everyone ends up talking about completely different things, and reading
>things into what other people say that were not intended.

Well, then don't engage in these debates! :)

Seriously, I'm going to talk about this stuff until I breathe my last
breath. Every single thing I say about art may be complete crap, but I
think that it's interesting and important to talk about it. You can always
put me in your kill file if you don't want to hear my blathering.

And I will never agree that it's useless to talk about art, or probably
anything else for that matter.

>>But there is common ground -- almost everyone can agree that certain works
>>are beautiful
>

>Oh? Is rap beautiful? As you say, tastes vary.

I don't understand. I was trying to say that there exist *some* works that
almost everyone can agree are beautiful. I wasn't trying to say that
people can agree that every "absolutely" beautiful work is beautiful to
them.

>What is nearly universal appeal? What percentage of the population
>needs to like a work for it to become art?

Look, who cares? Just because you can't assign a number to something
doesn't mean it's useless. "Nearly universal appeal" is exactly what I
wanted to say -- the notion in my head is exactly as open-ended as that
phrase suggests.

>What is significant? Things you consider significant may be irrelevant
>for another person, and vice versa.

OK, "significant" means "significant to many people" (again, not
quantified).

>>As a work, Myst did some interesting things, but I'd say that it wasn't
>>very successful overall.
>

>Well, I'd say the authors would disagree with you.

Why do you assume that? Personally, I've never been very happy with
anything I've written, and if you were to enumerate flaws in my works I'd
probably agree with most of them. Maybe the people who made Myst didn't
feel that it measured up to what they envisioned.

>If popularity is any indicator of success, Myst is one of the most
>successful games out there.

Need I comment? You're posting a message in rec.arts.int-fiction, the last
bastion of text-based IF, and you're talking about popularity as an
indicator of quality.

This has been a meta-argument, and meta-arguments are rarely worth more
than a few messages. I think it might be more useful to explore what it is
about AMFV that makes you think it is art.

The Essential Addition

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Oct 29, 1994, 5:21:09 PM10/29/94
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Incidentally, anyone who argues with Damien's statement that no two
people can agree on how to define art is proving his point by debating him.

--
/ I said you wouldn't understand -- The Essential Addition \
| You kill what you fear |
\ rbr...@netcom.com -- And you fear what you don't understand /

David Baggett

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Oct 29, 1994, 9:10:29 PM10/29/94
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In article <rbryanCy...@netcom.com>,

The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Incidentally, anyone who argues with Damien's statement that no two people
>can agree on how to define art is proving his point by debating him.

Arguing with Damien proves that *there exist* two people that disagree, not
that *any* two people will disagree. Who would argue against the "there
exists" version?

Anyway, who cares -- the notion that no one can agree with anyone else on
what art is -- and therefore we shouldn't talk about what makes things
artistic -- seems absolutely medieval to me. There is *ample* evidence to
disprove this claim -- the existence of thousands of English departments,
for example. The entire discipline of music theory. Basically, any group
of people who study art is living proof that *plenty of people* can largely
agree on what's art and what's not, at least to the extent that they can
have productive discussions about particular works.

I can't believe I have to make a *case* that talking about art is
worthwhile. People have been productively discussing art for millenia!

Felix Lee

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Oct 30, 1994, 6:48:13 PM10/30/94
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The Essential Addition:

>Incidentally, anyone who argues with Damien's statement that no two
>people can agree on how to define art is proving his point by debating him.

heh. I contend that it's impossible for two people to agree on a
definition of "debate". Anyone want to debate this? :)

seriously, the debate isn't really about definitions; it's about
concepts that are represented by vague words. The point is to see if
people can identify useful concepts and give them agreeable labels, to
make it easier to talk about them.

well, I *hope* that's the point.
--

The Essential Addition

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Oct 31, 1994, 6:55:35 PM10/31/94
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The Essential Addition:

>>Anyone who disagrees with Damien's statement that no two people


>>can agree on how to define art is proving his point by debating him.

Dave Baggett:

>I can't believe I have to make a *case* that talking about art is
>worthwhile. People have been productively discussing art for millenia!

And *I* can't believe that I have to inform anyone that my statement was
entirely flippant, and was never meant to be taken seriously!

Come on, sarcasm isn't THAT rare on r.a.i-f

David Baggett

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Nov 3, 1994, 10:39:21 PM11/3/94
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In article <rbryanCy...@netcom.com>,
The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Come on, sarcasm isn't THAT rare on r.a.i-f

Sure, but when you leave off a ":)", people assume you're being serious.

The Essential Addition

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Nov 4, 1994, 5:47:18 PM11/4/94
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In article <39cad9...@life.ai.mit.edu>,
David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:

>Sure, but when you leave off a ":)", people assume you're being serious.

OK, then, advance warning to all who are concerned: I do not use emoticons.

I think it's an insult to the intelligence of all computer users that we
are the only community on Earth that has to use smiley faces in order to
indicate our emotion or intention.

Duncan Anker

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Nov 4, 1994, 8:01:36 PM11/4/94
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David Baggett (d...@case.ai.mit.edu) wrote:
: In article <rbryanCy...@netcom.com>,

: The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

: >Come on, sarcasm isn't THAT rare on r.a.i-f

: Sure, but when you leave off a ":)", people assume you're being serious.

Sad, isn't it, when after being sarcastic, you have to tell people that you
were being sarcastic? I guess the net's just a bunch of losers :-)

--
s302...@titanic.mpce.mq.edu.au * Duncan Anker * e302...@hardy.ocs.mq.edu.au

"Smile!" They told me "Things could be worse."
So I smiled - and sure enough, things were worse.

Tom 'moof' Spindler

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Nov 5, 1994, 12:12:11 AM11/5/94
to
>>Sure, but when you leave off a ":)", people assume you're being serious.
>
>I think it's an insult to the intelligence of all computer users that we
>are the only community on Earth that has to use smiley faces in order to
>indicate our emotion or intention.

I don't think it's an insult; there just isn't a heaping hell of a lot
of emotional context sometimes. It can be impossible to tell if it's dry
humor, pompousness, cluelessness, or whatever, especially if you don't
know the writer in question.

The Essential Addition

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Nov 6, 1994, 9:19:01 AM11/6/94
to
The Essential Addition:

>>I think it's an insult to the intelligence of all computer users that we
>>are the only community on Earth that has to use smiley faces in order to
>>indicate our emotion or intention.

Felix Lee <fl...@cse.psu.edu> wrote:

>You're joking, right? :) Do you put voice filters on your phones? Do
>you wear a paper bag and speak in monotone? (I do, but only when I'm
>feeling antisocial. :) Packaging is 90% of getting the meaning across.

Perhaps, but somehow the rest of the world can read books, newspapers,
editorials, magazine articles and most other printed materials with
perfect understanding, and they never need an emoticon to do it.

>Blurbs and cover art on books are essential to putting the reader in
>the right frame of mind to appreciate them (even for Piers Anthony
>books :). A movie needs a "high concept" (not to be confused with
>"highbrow concept" :) or else it becomes impossible to sell to the
>public. Unless it wins a couple Oscars :). I suppose you don't
>believe in hints in games either? If the player doesn't understand
>the significance of the Petrarchan sonnet on bucky balls, then that's
>their problem, right? :)

I show the above paragraph to point out that if we were to extract every
emoticon from it, its meaning wouldn't change at all. The jokes (weak as
they are) are still jokes without the emoticons. All the smileys manage
to do is clutter.

The Essential Addition

unread,
Nov 7, 1994, 7:46:59 PM11/7/94
to
In article <FLEE.94N...@clu.cse.psu.edu>,
Felix Lee <fl...@cse.psu.edu> wrote:
>If I were to feel and say something like that in e-mail, how should I
>write it? Definitely not:
> "I'm sure that's wrong", I said sadly.

Actually, if we're going to use the above as an example of real writing
invading the usenet world, I should point out that excessive use of
adjectives is actually considered poor writing style.

However, I do see that, for some, emoticons are the way to go when
conveying emotion. Personally, my written tone always seems to express
anger, disdain, or a general sense of unjustified superiority, and I
don't think an emoticon exists for "I think I'm a God, so stop arguing
with me and kneel, scum!"

Ugh. If I weren't so honest with myself, I'd probably be a happier person.

Jason Noble

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Nov 8, 1994, 6:27:29 PM11/8/94
to
In article <rbryanCy...@netcom.com> rbr...@netcom.com
(The Essential Addition) writes:

>In article <FLEE.94N...@clu.cse.psu.edu>,
Felix Lee <fl...@cse.psu.edu> wrote:

>>If I were to feel and say something like that in e-mail, how should I
>>write it? Definitely not:
>> "I'm sure that's wrong", I said sadly.

^^^^^


>Actually, if we're going to use the above as an example of real writing
>invading the usenet world, I should point out that excessive use of
>adjectives is actually considered poor writing style.

Given the generally anal-retentive tone of this thread, I feel justified in
pointing out that "sadly" is an adverb and not an adjective. This was the
word you were referring to, Mr. Bryan?

>However, I do see that, for some, emoticons are the way to go when
>conveying emotion. Personally, my written tone always seems to express
>anger, disdain, or a general sense of unjustified superiority, and I
>don't think an emoticon exists for "I think I'm a God, so stop arguing
>with me and kneel, scum!"

Well, you're certainly candid.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of these things either, and I dislike the word
itself: "emoticon" - sounds like something Microsoft would sell.

However, I think that people find a need to use them in Usenet posts and
e-mail because they're attempting to have conversations in ascii text.

Rbryan pointed out that books, newspapers and other traditional text-based
media get by without the use of smileys, etc. This is true, but I don't
think the comparison is valid. Not everyone has the level of writing skill
necessary to write books or magazine articles. Those that do write books or
magazine articles edit and re-edit until the meaning is clear. Books and
magazine articles may adopt a conversational tone, but they are not
conversations.

Usenet posts and e-mail, on the other hand, are more often than not
attempting to be some kind of conversation or exchange. People are used to
the extra cues of tone of voice, posture, facial expression, etc. when they
are having conversations. Emoticons represent an effort to put some of
these cues into electronic conversations. As such, I don't think we can
condemn them.

I'll be honest: I'd be happier if everyone wrote so articulately that
smileys (and the rest) were never necessary; if people always found "le mot
juste" to express their intentions, ideas, and moods. Of course, that's not
going to happen. People on Usenet can't even get grammar and spelling
roughly right; expecting them to develop the literary skills of Joseph
Heller or J.D. Salinger (two people who never used smileys, to the best of
my knowledge, even though they were often funny) is clearly unreasonable.

Regards,


---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jason Noble | jno...@bunyip.bhs.mq.edu.au
National Centre for HIV Social Research | jno...@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia | ph. (61 2) 850 8667
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

S.P.Harvey

unread,
Nov 5, 1994, 10:10:42 AM11/5/94
to
Felix Lee (fl...@cse.psu.edu) wrote:
: Since I've grown tired of
: explaining myself to Politically Correct people who seem to have a
: Pavlovian response to certain keywords, I've learned the habit of
: using smileys when appropriate.
: --

I imagine that this is the best reason for using the blasted things.
I've been known to use them periodically to avoid the unintended
double-meaining, or to let people know when I've just giving them a hard
time for the fun of it.

Let's face it, sarcasm is an important and engaging method of
discussion. I'd rather have to stick a smiley in now and then to avoid
getting lots of hatemail, as opposed to cleaning up my act overall and
resorting to the dry language used in molecular biology texts.

See, now I've probably offended someone who lives for molecular biology.

The point is, I don't care.

Scott

--
----------------------| S.P. Harvey |--------------------------
"They say a good man is hard to find. Maybe Woresley was one of those.
But who on earth wants a good man? Who for that matter wants a good woman?
Not me." - Roald Dahl, "My Uncle Oswald"
----------------------| sha...@interaccess.com |--------------------------

Felix Lee

unread,
Nov 5, 1994, 7:09:47 AM11/5/94
to
The Essential Addition:

>I think it's an insult to the intelligence of all computer users that we
>are the only community on Earth that has to use smiley faces in order to
>indicate our emotion or intention.

You're joking, right? :) Do you put voice filters on your phones? Do


you wear a paper bag and speak in monotone? (I do, but only when I'm
feeling antisocial. :) Packaging is 90% of getting the meaning across.

Blurbs and cover art on books are essential to putting the reader in
the right frame of mind to appreciate them (even for Piers Anthony
books :). A movie needs a "high concept" (not to be confused with
"highbrow concept" :) or else it becomes impossible to sell to the
public. Unless it wins a couple Oscars :). I suppose you don't
believe in hints in games either? If the player doesn't understand
the significance of the Petrarchan sonnet on bucky balls, then that's
their problem, right? :)

--

Felix Lee

unread,
Nov 5, 1994, 7:09:36 AM11/5/94
to
The Essential Addition:

>I think it's an insult to the intelligence of all computer users that we
>are the only community on Earth that has to use smiley faces in order to
>indicate our emotion or intention.

I used to avoid smileys too. But I've since discovered that it's
impossible to insult the intelligence of computer users. Half of them
wouldn't be able to find the "Any" key even if there were a bright
green button labelled for that purpose. Few of them can barely put
together a coherant, grammatical English sentence, much less discern
the meaning of a well-written one. The only reason "trolling" is
wildly successful is people are so distanced from reality that they
can no longer distinguish truth from fiction. I suspect television is
the culprit. Not any show in particular, just television itself. The
images emitted are uniformly fuzzy and lacking in depth. The basic
visual quality of television is so poor compared to the sweeping
immersion of the senses that reality presents, and yet you are
supposed to believe that what you are seeing is something real.
Television has acclimated everyone to low-quality communication and
information spoon-fed for five-year-olds. Since I've grown tired of

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