2.19.2009

Common Knowledge?

Last week Rachel needed me to send a text message to her Uncle Sam to request a souvenir from his trip. (She's running out of things to take to kindergarten show and tell.) She told me every word to write in the three-message long directive and instructed me to end it all with a smiley face.

I recounted the story to Steve later that night. It went something like this:

Me: Rachel had me send Sam a message and asked him to get her something in Vegas. When we got to the end, she even told me to type a smiley face.

Steve: Did you know you can do that?

Me: What did you just say? (In a somewhat analytical tone.)

Steve: You can make a smiley face when you're typing. You just put a colon and a, um, parenthesis.

Me: You're serious? (Now in more of an impertinent tone.)

Steve: Yeah, I just learned about it today.

Me: Actually, I don't think I said anything after this. I was laughing too hard. Way too hard to be nice to my poor husband who had just worked eighteen hours. (It didn't help that it was two in the morning.)

Five minutes later:

Steve: I don't know why you think that would be common knowledge.

Me: Still giggling. (Not in an egotistical way. Just slightly uncontrollable.)

That phrase has been used before. A few times. One of the classics came from a Jeopardy game we played for Family Home Evening. Steve, Rachel, and Derrick were all playing as contestants and the question was: What comes between yellow and blue on the color wheel? The time to answer came and passed without anybody producing one.

I figured Steve was just trying to be nice since Derrick doesn't know things like that (another story for another time). When I mentioned it later that night I was astounded to learn that Steve did not know what came between yellow and blue on the color wheel. My amazing, brilliant husband, who can memorize an entire order of drinks, appetizers, and meals with substitutions and modifications from a table of eighteen people, didn't even know there was a color wheel.

This prompted some late night laughter that turned into banter once I called Sam and Kacie to query them. Steve maintained his position that it was not common knowledge and constructed a little quiz that he passed around to his seminary students and the employees at Cafe Sabor.

I lost. But I'm not quite sure I agree with the results. I think the question might have been so basic that the participants thought it must be a trick question. We got a few indigos and violets. Proudly, there were even a few who produced the whole ROY G. BIV mnemonic. But I lost. Incredibly, I think there were less than thirty percent who answered correctly. (Green.)

To clarify, I am am not an excessive acronym user. I rarely use LOL, and I don't ever vary from the basic smiling or frowning face emoticons. I do not work with computer programmers, like Steve's sister. (And for the record, she knows more acronym slang than anyone I know. I had to depend on google to interpret what she was saying when we used to chat via Instant Messenger.)

So back to the question, which I am asking out of friendly curiosity:

Is the emoticon for a smiley face common knowledge?

Please share your input. Be brave. I won't think any less of you. But if you're under the age of. . . let's say 50. . . I might get a much-needed chuckle out of it.

For those of you who are interested in the history of emoticons, they actually date back to the 1800's. Wikipedia says that emoticons on the Internet can be traced to a proposal by Scott Fahlman (shown in above photo) in a message to Carnegie Mellon University from 1982:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:

:-)

Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use

:-(

9 comments:

Stephanie said...

I hate to admit it, but I would look for months and months and wonder what they were doing at the end of thier sentences. I just got it the other day when I happened to look sideways at it. I didn't get it!! So, I here you on this one Steve!!

Kristin said...

Sorry Steve I think it's common knowledge.

The Millers said...

The emoticon is definitely common knowledge, although I promise I have never used it, and hope that I never will.

I am embarrassed to admit that I had no idea about the color wheel, though. Not sure I knew there was a color wheel, and certainly wouldn't have known the answer was green.

So I know the smiley face emoticon, but don't know about color wheels. Not sure what that says about me.

Fun post.

James and Jade Bethers said...

Totally common knowledge! On all accounts! Common sense tells you that blue and yellow make green....so that is what would be in the middle. The whole smiley face thing...is something that anybody would get unless they have a complete lack of imagination! Hope that helps!

Josh Mcfarland said...

Common knowledge. The smiley face and the color wheel. I mean, yes; the first time I saw the strange sequence of characters at the end of a message I was perplexed. But that was in about 1997.

Bridgett said...

Color wheel, totally common knowledge. Steve's art teachers really failed him on that one.
The emoticon is common knowledge to anyone who uses computers. I do have to admit that it took me awhile to realize is was a smiley face and I'm not ashamed that I use it all the time. Its a nice break from the stand-by exclamation mark;)

Ramanda said...

Common knowledge on both accounts! Gotta love when you can prove that you are right! It's a good feeling!

Amanda said...

You already know my vote on both of these topics. But even my 60 year old fil knew (I asked). So I think it might be common knowledge. Sorry Steve!

Jill said...

Yes....common knowledge ;o) I think green is also common knowledge! I cannot believe less than 30 percent got that one. Too funny!!!