Amongst my constabulary of IRC droogies, there are savants who can not only communicate the deep swelling of their souls entirely in punctuation marks, but who can also easily rattle of an ASCII portrait of a flower, a crab nebula or a four panel pictogram of inter-species erotica with uncanny skill. My 13 year old cousin is scarcely less prolific. Yes, the emoticon may seem like a gimped form of human expression, but consider for a moment the fact that the great master literary prose stylist Vladimir Nabokov pined for the invention of the form, finding mere words a poor substitute for a smiley. “I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile – some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question,” Nabokov once famously replied to a particularly stupid interview question. Indeed. The point is clear: emoticons are the future.
Asus’ R&D design studio, PEGA, is obviously taking Nabokov to heart. Their concept Look@Me emoticon keyboard is like an auxiliary number pad aimed not at accountants or mathematicians but at giggly teenage girls. Each key contains an ASCII symbol — concave marks and supine round brackets — that allows emoticons to be typed out with rapid-fire acumen by fresh-faced Lolitas around the world. Vlad would be proud.