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Opinion: Microsoft Lync’s dog emoticon doesn’t mean dog anymore

Sentiment in the modern workplace is nearly universal on this point: inter-office memos are extinct, forgotten vestigial structures left over from the primitive foundations of current American corporate existence. Replacing the tedium of papers and envelopes is the new lifeblood of departmental communication: Microsoft Lync.

This modern convenience has bred something less-than-savory in the workplace, however. Microsoft’s forward-thinking Lync programming team’s big “Eureka!” moment has inadvertently enabled a percentage of the workforce into text-speaking lazy rubes. The grid below contains the 80 different energy-saving text-substitution-icons (or “emoticons”) that Microsoft added to its Lync messenger software.


“You could do a whole TED talk on these things.” – Linguist

Ten years ago, you would have to draw a slice of cheese pizza yourself, in pen, on a piece of stationary, fill out an envelope and leave it for the mail room to pick up and deliver. Less artistic employees-of-old might have even spelled out the words “cheese pizza” in their communique. The purpose of the Lync picture-likenesses is abundantly clear. The cost in effort and man-hours to draw a soccer ball or a snail is a waste when the process can be automated. The emoticons were a natural progression in human evolution and a necessary change in moving civilization forward.

All the more reason that the common Lync user’s behavior is such a grim omen for futurists like myself. Sure, people in your office are probably using these pictograms, but are they using them correctly? How often do we see the dog (&) or the cat (@) used to mean dog or cat? So too with sheep, sunny island, wilting rose, pile of coins, and both of the clock emoticons. Perhaps, too, when the martini exited the American workplace after the age of Mad Men, so too did its place among the pantheon of Microsoft Lync messenger icons.

This author, for one, will continue making flipbooks of a man running and a smiley face shrinking down a road and into the horizon and mailing them to my coworkers. Modernity isn’t always better.

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