Friday, September 22, 2006

Interactive Text

I don't know if when I explained my whole Tov thing in this post if you actually took it seriously or not, but there really is a point to what I was saying. I've been thinking about it a bit more recently. I just KEEP running across situations over IM where misunderstanding occur because someone doesn't understand what the other person means. This kind of half way real time conversation like IM, web chats, or text messaging are really still pretty new, but I think that many people have found them to be a really good middle ground communication measure. Kelly over at the Based On Experience Podcast talked about this very issue in one of her episodes in one of their episodes a while ago. For the life of me I can't figure out which one (somewhere around ep#7 i think) but you all should be listening to them anyways, so you probably already heard it. In essence she, along with her cohost Bobby were talking about how people set up personal boundaries, and that despite or perhaps inspite of the rapid advancements in communication technology, socially its a much more complex world today. Assessing and understanding your boundaries, and then questioning them, is important. Remember how a few years ago you'd never used IM? or remember the first time you sent a text message? Internet culture is bringing people together like never before, but are we ready for it? Am I? I like these middle ground forms of communication. the stunted kind of conversation that IM provides because it is safe, I understand the rules (for the most part), and I know that I am always in control. In another five years will everyone be listing their Skype number online for true VOIP communication? maybe. For now though I know that I am not quite comfortable letting someone I've never seen, met, or communicated in any way, call me to TALK on the phone. Net-relationships are complicated enough, and I like the filtered approach. For now.

This is where something like TOV could potentially come into play. Yes I know that its kinda goofy in any kind of practical way, but as a symbol I think it has merit. Imagine along with me for a moment. What if there was some kind of standardized text animations that everyone knew and everyone could follow... imagine if the colors of words meant inflection? Why don't we have this. What I really want is Interactive Text. The color association is easy. We already associate colors with emotions. Red for love, or anger, blue is cool and relaxing, and is green which has natural qualities and depth, black is dark, important and imposing, and others like yellow, or white, or fucha can mean different things to different people. Now that wouldn't be too hard to nail down somewhat more definitively (at least for these purposes). The other key to the Interactive Text is simple animations. I'm really not sure this isn't already totally possible now, but what I see is say taking a word that you've just typed in an IM, and with the click of a button applying a specific animation to it that conveys your intended emotion. Say you want the word to really resound affirmative, why not a slow bob up and down, negative left to right. How about for confusion we could have a slight twisted tension on the edges of the font, or a text that squishes and repairs to signify playfulness or sillyness.

These concepts aren't new, in fact there are already a number of logical animations out there for specific emotions. This really hit home with me after listening to the last episode of The Gen Y Retrocast (#32) where they talked about Sesame Street. I went onto YouTube and found a bunch of old cartoons from the show. Things like this and this and this. ok, maybe those aren't the perfect examples but you'll know what I meant if you watch them. Certain animations are already in our brains, we already understand them, so why not put them to use for some added level of integrated communication.

Interactive Text is better than TOV, in fact it eliminates the need for tov which never really worked all that well to begin with. What I want is the ability to just click a word as I type and apply an emotional context, especially sarcasm. Even if I have hold down a function key, I would.

If this already exists out there please someone let me know where and how... Yes maybe in 5 years society and I will be ready to just skip this whole jilted middle ground form of communication and jump right into relationships, but for now, i think something like Interactive Text could really improve the as is experience.

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