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New iConji Language For the Symbol-Minded Texter

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the dissimilar-to-not-from dept.

Communications 195

billdar writes "As texting evolves into its own language, a Northern Colorado Business Review article covers an ambitious project to develop a new symbol-based language called iConji for mobile texting and online chatting. 'iConji is a set of user-created 32x32-pixel symbols that represent words or ideas, not dissimilar from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics or American Sign Language.' There is an instructional video for the iPhone app and it is also integrated into Facebook." Behind this project is Kai Staats, formerly CEO of Terra Soft Solutions, the original developer of Yellow Dog Linux.

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195 comments

3000BC called... (4, Insightful)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312792)

3000BC called... they want their idea back!

Re:3000BC called... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312848)

not dissimilar from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics

Why not just use hieroglyphics?

Re:3000BC called... (4, Insightful)

LunarEffect (1309467) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312922)

Because Egyptian hieroglyphics actually meant something to the Egyptian people. The symbols they used were in context with how they lived and what they saw around them and I suppose they were more self explanatory to the people back then than they are to us today. If you look at the iConji symbols, you'll see that you can understand the meaning of a lot of them just by looking at them, because they are based on symbols from our every day lives, thus making them easier for us to understand. I'm sure if you invented a time machine and gave these to an ancient Egyptian scientists without an explanation or context, they'd have a hard time understanding them.

Egyptian context Re:3000BC called... (2, Interesting)

Fubari (196373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313806)

Context is interesting - it is a "big deal", really. Here is an example of context for Egyptian hieroglyphs:
The "northward" glyph was a lowered sail: the Nile flows north, so they would use current to travel (no sail).
The "southward" glyph was a raised, wind-filled sail since the prevailing winds blew south. South was literally "the direction one sails". Which is, by the way, very convenient when you need to go upstream without a motor.

These things were just obvious if your life and economy revolved around the Nile.
Without that context, it has no meaning.

Text-speak has gained huge popularity.
Everybody understand LOL and :-) today.
Why won't something like Iconoglyphs become very popular?

r.e. the hieroglyphs, this is just some trivia I picked up from a museum exhibit; interesting stuff - museums are cool :-)
More detail here: http://www.egyptianmyths.net/sail.htm [egyptianmyths.net]

Re:3000BC called... (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 2 years ago | (#32314084)

I don't get it.
You mean they didn't reserve 80% of their symbols for porn or we don't?

Re:3000BC called... (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312890)

No we don't even need to go that far back... Here is a simpler idea... Chinese, Japanese anyone? Why invent a new language when we just need to learn those languages and all of our problems will be solved...

Re:Not that I'd use it... (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312920)

Is there an Esperanto App? Some ideas' time will never come.

Re:Not that I'd use it... (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312968)

The problem with Esperanto is that it is European in focus, while iConji may appeal more to people in Asia.

Re:Not that I'd use it... (1)

cyp43r (945301) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313228)

They have a lexicon of symbols which they use to convey meaning pictographically! They use it as a regular language!

Re:Not that I'd use it... (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313274)

iConji is western/European too. In Asia they already have one of these, and a billion people know how to use it.

Re:Not that I'd use it... (2, Informative)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313564)

1 billion people in Asia are perfectly capable of reading and writing "Chinese simplified".
Then there's several million people in Macao, Singapore, Taiwan that can read and write "Chinese traditional"
Another 130 million are perfectly capable of reading and writing Japanese symbols, which are "Chinese traditional" symbols plus one or two entire alphabets added.
People capable of writing Simplified or Traditional characters don't lose their sleep when trying to read text of the other character set, it's not totally different after all.
Most other Asian languages have grammar that looks slightly similar to Chinese and Japanese, with other symbols and alphabets of course.

Why build and invent a rotten wheelbarrow when there's a fully equipped 21st-century luxury pick up already waiting at the tarmac that can be had for free?

Most Asian phones have a full character set already, most Asian people are capable of understanding all of them, most Asian networks are capable of transmitting the messages.

Every PowerPoint slide written to defend the idea of reinventing Kanji/Hanzi type languages is a crime against mental sanity.

Re:Not that I'd use it... (2)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313142)

Esperanto is a terrible solution to international communication. The intent is good enough, but the strategy is arse backward. There's no readily availabe stream of living usage to learn it from and if you did put the effort into speaking it by the book you'd have no one to talk to anyway! Shouldn't have called it hope, really, the irony is thick....

Seriously, what have people got against learning each others existing languages? Aren't there enough already without having to confuse the situation by inventing more languages, or this iconji, giving you that comfortable reassurance that you don't have to bother anyway because you can just communicate with flash cards and wavy arms! (I already know that, but THANKS ANYWAY ICONJI!)

Re:Not that I'd use it... (1)

Rophuine (946411) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313224)

And even if Esperanto became popular, which it won't, there would be a mad scramble to "save the traditional languages".

Re:Not that I'd use it... (2)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313568)

I think thats over simplifying the issue a bit though. Esperanto will never even have that much of a threat value to cause a reaction like that. I wouldn't rule out something similar to esperanto emerging on its own, but it would be far more natural and spontaneous. The large scale version of languages borrowing words from each other. Individual words being able to float above national borders and become part of a larger world, that sort of thing. It may cause the all around raising of heckles when it does happen, but that would only be a sign that it is useful enough to be considered a 'threat' to traditional ways. At the end of the day, a language is only as good as how useful it is. The only thing really threatened is textbooks, because they wont be able to keep up with the evolutionary process!

  For the moment, we have to be proactive and speak other languages, so that people can use their own insight to work towards that end. To have something useful now, learning russian or arabic or anything really is better than learning obscure conlangs that exist only on dead trees and only have the support of their own groups; that just leads to more fragmentation!

Re:Not that I'd use it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313624)

"Linux is a terrible solution for international computing. The intent is good enough, but the strategy is arse backward. There's no readily availabe stream of apps in use to learn it from and if you did put the effort into using it by the book you'd have no one to talk to anyway! Shouldn't have called it free, really, the irony is thick...."

Funny, eh? You know, Linux works for me. On a daily basis. For internet surfing, printing, banking, amusement, news.

Esperanto can, too. It's not harder than English by any measure. There's good music in Esperanto. The best short story I've ever read was in Esperanto (Kabuliwala). I've read things in Esperanto, one will never read in English, like a comic book about Hiroshima. I've seen how other people's hopes are the same as mine and how human themes can cross cultural barriers.

> Seriously, what have people got against learning each others existing languages?

You may soon learn about this, as Chinese gets more and more prevalent. May you live in interesting times.

Perhaps then we'll be more receptive to a possible Esperanto II, more Asia-centric and hopefully (for us, Westerners) written in Korean or, brace for impact, cyrillic...

Re:Not that I'd use it... (1)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 2 years ago | (#32313978)

Apples and oranges. Linux is immediately useful to anybody that wants a computer and doesn't need computer games or other specialist stuff. If people realised that, the special stuff would follow them. It is important because it is the easiest available antidote to Microsoft monoculture. It's fragmented, laissez faire, open ended and doesn't tell you that everything has to be done one way. Its about as similar to esperanto as a tree is to a duck. Which are two different types of things that aren't usually compared!

You may soon learn about this, as Chinese gets more and more prevalent. May you live in interesting times.

Why do you even dress this up with a forboding twist on it? You obviously have some veiled opinion. I personally would love to be able to speak and read Chinese, I just haven't found a good routine for teaching myself. If I wasn't a broke deadbeat, I would probably take lessons. Don't presume it would be some undesirable punishment for everyone!

Re:3000BC called... (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313000)

Chinese, Japanese anyone?

Yes, I'll have the dim sum with a side of sashimi, thank you.

Re:3000BC called... (3, Informative)

Speare (84249) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313058)

Just go back to 3000 BC...

No we don't even need to go that far back... Here is a simpler idea... Chinese, Japanese anyone?

The beginnings of Chinese characters are at least 8000 years ago, and they modernized over the millennia, so that is going that far back. Why do you think this project has the name "iConji" (pronounced the same as "i-kanji", the Japanese word that literally means "Chinese characters")?

Re:3000BC called... (1)

blai (1380673) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313340)

the Chinese usually refer to their history as 5000 years old. Let's give them as much credit as they ask for!

Re:3000BC called... (4, Interesting)

Cruise_WD (410599) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313034)

I've been saying for a while now that the last few decades have seen the devolution of language. I'm not a linguist, as I'm probably about to demonstrate, but the development of written language went (very) roughly like: pictograms -> consonants -> vowels -> punctuation

Each level adding a bit more subtlety and complexity while reducing ambiguity.

Computer based communication has followed this path backwards almost exactly. Punctuation was the first to suffer, followed by an increase in consonant only abbreviations, and smilies started the trend towards the final step. It looks like we've just hit rock-bottom.

The trouble is, all the previous developments in written communication happened for good reasons, which are generally not explained, taught or understood any more.

Re:3000BC called... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313078)

English is and always have been the bastard child of every other language. merging and combining new words into it. it is constantly changing. It had gone formal for several years and is now gone more open. By the end of this century it will swing back to becoming more formal.

English does this on a regular basis.

Re:3000BC called... (2, Insightful)

cyp43r (945301) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313236)

English incorporates foreign words for foreign or new concepts just like every other language. All languages grow and develop or they wouldn't have become languages.

Re:3000BC called... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313516)

I don't think it's devolving. To me, many of these developments are closer to shorthand. People always sought to abbreviate their communications somehow, although I don't think this iConji will catch on too much.

Re:3000BC called... (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313134)

Made me think more of the future, and Idiocracy...

"Durrr we're too dumb to spell so we'll just use icons!"

But then again, it's less presses than using the keyboard, and maybe more universal. Although I remember reading an MSDN article about the universality of icon languages... not everybody in the world might interpret "@" as "at"...

Re:3000BC called... (1)

lordmatrix (1439871) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313206)

No one (normal) in my country knows that @ means "at". @ has it's own unique word here, "afna". It's only used in email addresses.

Re:3000BC called... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313592)

Didier Bouchon and Phillipe Ulrich's "Captain Blood" did this in 1988 on the Atari ST:
    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Blood_(video_game) [wikipedia.org]

You selected a group of icons to be spoken to the weird aliens you found, shortly before you nuked the planet out of frustration!

Re:3000BC called... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32313928)

Might as well learn Japanese.* There's more and better learning material, it has a practical real-world use, it's tried and tested, and you will not suffer from this:
"While iConjigation of verbs is not necessary, iConji does have some rules. For one, anyone can contribute to the lexiConji, but the product itself is not open source; the code is proprietary. Symbols representing commercial products are verboten without a license, allowing iConji to remain free for users by generating revenue for commercial symbols. Companies would pay a nominal fee every time their symbol is used, and in return, would be able to know where and when people were discussing the product."
*Or Cantonese &c. for all I care. But I think most people on /. would have more use for Japanese.

them ancient egyptian hieroglyphics (2, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312804)

<nitpick>don't necessarily represent ideas or words, they actually represent sounds and are used like your alphabet is (see e.g. http://www.omniglot.com/writing/egyptian.htm [omniglot.com]). now, if those user-created symbols would function like pictograms, not dissimilar to the traditional chinesich characters we love and cherish, it'd be a totally different matter.</nitpick>

Re:them ancient egyptian hieroglyphics (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312898)

If by "traditional Chinese characters" you mean the first writings made on oracle bones many thousands of years ago, then perhaps they can be called pictograms. However, the modern Chinese writing system is not pictographic or ideographic and Chinese characters, far from being some kind of abstract referents to things, is tightly bound to the structure of the Chinese language. See DeFrancis' classic work The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy [amazon.com] (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1984).

Re:them ancient egyptian hieroglyphics (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313210)

Get back to me when the literal translation of 'train' is not 'electric car'.

Re:them ancient egyptian hieroglyphics (4, Informative)

suffe (72090) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312930)

Actually, they worked in three different ways. Pictograms, sounds and determinants.

If you were in a "hurry", had a lack of space or artistic reasons, you could just draw the symbol for bird and be done with it.

You could also use them to describe sounds (like a modern alphabet). This would combine a few symbols into a word that could be sounded-out.

Lastly, you could use them to simply be more clear, to help _determine_ the meaning of a word. You'd spell out the word for bird and then draw a bird (and underline the bird to distinguish it from the rest).

Interesting sideline to all of this is that you can write with hieroglyphs from both left to right and right to left. Doesn't really matter which one you pick. If you want to read it, just keep an eye out for the birds again. The direction of their mouths indicate which way to read the text.

Re:them ancient egyptian hieroglyphics (3, Informative)

plut4rch (1553209) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312932)

If you really want to be pedantic, it's not hieroglyphics but hieroglyphs. Also, the signs can be made to represent objects/ideas instead of sounds. If you want the hieroglyphic character to represent what it looks like, one just needs to add a small determinative stroke underneath. For example 'r' can be made to mean 'mouth' just be adding a small stroke underneath the mouth shaped sign.

Re:them ancient egyptian hieroglyphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313014)

This is just an idiot coming up with a 'solution' to a problem that doesn't exist, and a 'solution' that doesn't actually work. Utter douchebag. Anybody involved in this pile of shite deserves to watch it turn into an EPIC FAIL...

There's this cool thing about letters (4, Insightful)

lolbutts (1638867) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312826)

You don't need to have thousands of different glyphs available so that people can communicate. "Coffee at 4?" works fine for my uses (well, in a theoretical world where I drink coffee).

Re:There's this cool thing about letters (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313076)

The other cool thing is that you can easily create new words from them. Japanese newspapers have this problem. If you create a new glyph in Kanji, which is an ideographic writing system, then people don't know how to pronounce it and you don't have a good way of encoding it. It doesn't have a unique unicode representation, and even if it did most web browsers wouldn't have a font installed that had the correct glyph, so you can't use it online. In contrast, phonographic alphabetic writing systems provide a simple set of building blocks that can be used to create new words easily. This means that they adapt faster. If you look at a technical manual written in an ideographic language, you will find a lot of words that can't be represented. Japanese has its own phonographic representations, but other systems use latin letters as fallback (actually, Japanese does sometimes too) - you'll often see English words in the middle of Chinese writing because there is no ideographic equivalents.

one symbol to rule them all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312832)

8===D

Re:one symbol to rule them all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312876)

A shovel? :>

Re:one symbol to rule them all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312918)

I'm to 8===D you senseless.

Re:one symbol to rule them all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312928)

Return 8===D after you finish!

SMS is on the way out (at least for me) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312850)

Personally I've moved away from SMS messaging. With my current mobile service, sending email from my phone is much more cost effective. I get 150 megabytes of free 3G Internet access per month. Even though traffic is counted in both directions, that's still a lot of free email per month. With email I can send messages that are both longer and more expressive than SMS messages can reasonably be, and I've configured my phone to notify me of new email just as it notifies me of a new SMS. So in this context I don't see the value (for me) of an abbreviated language like iConji.

Re:SMS is on the way out (at least for me) (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313112)

This was the situation in Japan when I visited back in 2003 - people still talked about text messages, but they were really sending emails with no length limitations. Even SMS isn't really SMS anymore. It used to be sent in one of the side channels of a GSM connection and the size limits came from the amount of spare space in the packet. With GPRS and anything newer, phones will typically send SMS using a (much less scarce) data channel. The size limitation only remains for legacy interoperability and (more importantly) price gouging. With your 3G phone, you're probably using the same data channel whether you send SMS or email - the TCP and SMTP overhead means that you're probably using more bandwidth for the email, but because SMS is still billed at something like £500/MB it's cheaper for you.

With 4G this becomes even more silly. One of the criteria for a 4G network is that it has to be all-IP. If you're sending an SMS over a 4G network, it's likely to be implemented using a protocol like email, but you'll still end up paying a lot more for an email marked as SMS than an email marked as an email. This makes a little bit of sense if the person at the other end is on a non-IP network, because you're paying for the bridge service, but it makes no sense at all between IP users.

Re:SMS is on the way out (at least for me) (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313314)

I bet the majority of SMS messages are billed as part of an unlimited monthly bucket.

Re:SMS is on the way out (at least for me) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313120)

Auto-splitting and -joining SMSes has been the norm for ... about a decade now, hasn't it?
Sure, it still costs you a lot more per character than mail, but I can live with the 10cent cost now and then. (Especially since most of the people I talk with don't read their email on their phone.)

Re:SMS is on the way out (at least for me) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313354)

Auto-splitting and -joining SMSes has been the norm for ... about a decade now, hasn't it?
Sure, it still costs you a lot more per character than mail, but I can live with the 10cent cost now and then. (Especially since most of the people I talk with don't read their email on their phone.)

I've found the majority of the people I correspond with via my phone also have email access set up in the same way. Assuming I'm over my free quota, sending an SMS split over, say, three messages costs me the same as 10 megabytes worth of email. Email is just so much more cost effective for me.

Its like adwords except you use them to communicat (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312854)

the product itself is not open source; the code is proprietary. Symbols representing commercial products are verboten without a license, allowing iConji to remain free for users by generating revenue for commercial symbols. Companies would pay a nominal fee every time their symbol is used, and in return, would be able to know where and when people were discussing the product.

Okay so McDonalds will pay to have a unique symbol in the language and in return they get data on when and how people use it. So if I copy that symbol and write a free implementation I am presumably violating copyright.

Re:Its like adwords except you use them to communi (4, Interesting)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313174)

Okay so McDonalds will pay to have a unique symbol in the language and in return they get data on when and how people use it.

Wait. A few questions:

- So if there is no symbol for a certain brand already licensed in the system, how do you, as a user, discuss it?

- What if I am a company that iConji disagrees with for some tedious moral/administrative reason and refuses to licence me? Could be double-plus ungood.

- What if the 'nominal fee' for my suddenly wildly-popular product is too much for me to bear or becomes irritating? Can I remove the symbol from usage? Does iConji come after me with hired goons for the cash?

- What if some other company licenses *my* symbol and uses it to track their efforts to dethrone me? Can I petition to get the symbol transferred to me?

- What if some other company licenses some sort of disparaging symbol to describe my fine product. Can I petition to get the symbol removed? Can I hire uber-lawyers and grind iConji into dust if they disagree?

All these questions will be running through the minds of company lawyers everywhere as soon as they hear of this.

Re:Its like adwords except you use them to communi (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313226)

- So if there is no symbol for a certain brand already licensed in the system, how do you, as a user, discuss it?

you can always discuss the house of the venerable and inscrutable colonel.

Re:Its like adwords except you use them to communi (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#32313954)

- So if there is no symbol for a certain brand already licensed in the system, how do you, as a user, discuss it?

You use some transliteration. So for say a particular burger joint, you would use a symbol starting with M, then C, then D. The symbols chosen also attempting to portray some additional subtext. Like, say... "Meat Cheese Dog".

Already exists: 'Zlango - and it's user extensible (1)

lieutenant (455728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312856)

http://www.zlango.com/
check out the music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ascDjKXgph4&fmt=22

Re:Already exists: 'Zlango - and it's user extensi (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312892)

To me, it looks a lot closer to Blissymbols (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blissymbol), but less well-developed.

This idea might have been a fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32312868)

If only it came out 10 years ago, because its just too damn stupid to catch on after the likes of twitter

"It's that simple" (5, Insightful)

ewrong (1053160) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312900)

She announces gleefully after spending nearly 2 minutes flicking through tabs and scrolling through mountains of icons to enter a message that would take most people a few seconds to type normally.

Dumbest idea I've seen in a long time.

Re:"It's that simple" (1)

XnR'rn (793753) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312956)

They need some user interface insight into sorting those symbols then.

It would improve the situation, but I have to point out that Chinese and Japanese use IME [wikipedia.org] for their systems of iconographic characters. :>

Re:"It's that simple" (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312978)

MS will put the glyphs on a ribbon and then everybody will say that it is a large improvement, more user friendly and much faster to use...

Re:"It's that simple" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313190)

Something like PictoChat would work a whole lot better, and actually increase the ease of use and expressiveness rather than constrain it.

Re:"It's that simple" (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313546)

You seem to have intentionally ignored the fact that it was meant in a way that you could draw the symbols yourself, with the keys, because of its low resolution.

But I agree on the “dumbest idea” statement. :)

Captain Blood called (3, Informative)

Myoukochou (1817718) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312980)

Captain Blood called, and he wants his UPCOM back. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Blood_(video_game) [wikipedia.org] This is an utterly terrible idea, however, as you can type way, way faster on, say, an iPhone than you could ever select symbols from a list. I mean, a bunch of custom smilies is what this is, and a bunch of them are commercial. This is highly likely not to take off. (Also, where’s the Android app?)

Blissymbolics (4, Interesting)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#32312990)

It could maybe become useful to some degree. If you can make people think of it as a game, a challenge, maybe it will develop to the point that it will be useful. People love the artificially constrained communication of Twitter, so why not?

Yet, I would advise the initiators to read the sad story of Blissymbolics. I wanted to link to wikipedia, but they don't tell it (in fact they tell an extremely sanitized story!) It's recounted in other places, such as Arika Orkent's book "In the land of invented languages".

In brief, Bliss wanted to create an internationally intuitive symbol language, suitable for full communication. That didn't work, but by chance, a centre working with CP children came across it. These are children who have normal intelligence, but extremely few ways of expressing themselves. They were also too young to have learned to read, so they couldn't slowly spell out what they want a la Hawkins. Instead they used Bliss' symbols as a sort of rebus: One kid who wanted to go as a vampire on halloween pointed to the signs for "dark", "man", "blood", "mouth" etc.

Bliss was at first overjoyed. Then he was furious, because he found out the teachers (and the kids) used it "wrong", not according to the rules he'd set up. He threatened to sue. Eventually they were forced to settle, for a large sum. So in essence he stole money from handicapped children, but had to give up his dream of an international symbol language.

Re:Blissymbolics (1)

cyp43r (945301) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313260)

Those damn orphans. If they want to express themselves then they'll damn well do it by the book!

Re:Blissymbolics (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313394)

Bliss was at first overjoyed. Then he was furious, because he found out the teachers (and the kids) used it "wrong", not according to the rules he'd set up. He threatened to sue. Eventually they were forced to settle, for a large sum. So in essence he stole money from handicapped children,

Thus proving once and for all that ignorance is not Bliss.

Re:Blissymbolics (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#32313976)

Bliss was at first overjoyed. Then he was furious, because he found out the teachers (and the kids) used it "wrong", not according to the rules he'd set up. He threatened to sue. Eventually they were forced to settle, for a large sum. So in essence he stole money from handicapped children,

Thus proving once and for all that ignorance is not Bliss.

I thought the moral was that Bliss is ignorant...

What a portmanteau.. (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313012)

The name seems to be a portmanteau of "icon" and "kanji," or perhaps just "icon" and "ji," which is Japanese for "character." That's the first thing that came to mind when I read the name... small, discrete symbols that represent a concept.

Think less than you already do, please (1)

kronosopher (1531873) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313122)

the iPhone app and it is also integrated into Facebook

Why does this "languages" presence on the iPhone and Facebook suddenly legitimize it? I can't think of any better way to destroy intellectual discourse than by devolving it to some random terse symbology.

While big corporations like Apple and Facebook plan significant depopulation in concert with the international banks and the military industrial complex, the moron herds are concocting new ways to think less than they already do. Woohooooo! America!

Nice idea, but word order? (1)

theolein (316044) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313124)

I like the idea very much, having had similar ideas myself some years ago to bridge the gap of communicating with people whose languages I don't know. The problem is that the grammar of different languages can be different enough to make direct transcription using these symbols more difficult than simply using Google's translate or a dictionary (or even learning the basics of the language itself).

For example: The basic word order in English is Subject Verb Object. In Turkish, it is Subject Object Verb. So, if a Turk writes I Water Want, you would probably understand but would almost certainly run into difficulties as soon as the phrase becomes more complex. If the Turk makes the previous sentence a little more complex, (I want water with sugar), it becomes "I water sugar with want". Turkish uses a different system of asking questions, for instance, so "Do I want water with sugar" becomes "I water sugar with want(question form)".

This carries over into many languages (some languages have no direct word for "to be", other have two or more forms, such as Spanish).

That makes this symbolic language useful only for very, very simple sentences, and glancing through the icons, it's also pretty obvious that it was developed by English speakers. For anything more complex, you're going to have to use a translator or, you know, actually learn the language.

Isn't it ironic, then, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313132)

that the Chinese, who use a symbol-based writing system as proposed by iConji, prefer to input their symbols by using Latin letters, instead of having a long list of symbols pop up.

Privacy issues? (4, Interesting)

Alef (605149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313148)

From the FAQ on their site:

Q: Do my iConjisations get stored somewhere?
Yes, in the iConji database which is housed in a secure environment on one or more servers.

If this means that all conversations are recorded and stored by iConji when you use their apps, it is without any doubt a deal breaker for me.

destined to fail? (5, Insightful)

ascari (1400977) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313170)

The successful "techno-social" languages seem to emerge spontaneously in response to real needs. (Think of things like twitter's @ syntax, the web's emoticons, IRC's one letter words, even 1337-speak etc.) The very fact that this language is the fruit of an "ambitious project" to meet a need merely postulated suggests that it's destined for a life in obscurity. Nobody will bother to learn it.

Re:destined to fail? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313610)

In other words: If we would need it, it would already have been invented. (...shortly after the first SMS in 1992, not now at the end of phones just having the default numeric keypad.)

Why not write an open app that let's you do it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313178)

Write an open application that let's you define the glyphs, send them, receive them.

Problem solved.

Really, why do you need some company in between?

hieroglyphics (2, Informative)

paulatz (744216) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313320)

the article (and its summary here on slashdot) states:

symbols that represent words or ideas, not dissimilar from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics

unfortunately hieroglyphics compose a phonetic alphabet, not dissimilar from the roman or the cyrillic ones, with only a few ideograms for very common names. The idea that hieroglyphics are a graphical alphabet was very popular before the 1820s, when this writing started to be deciphered; archaeologists went as far as providing colourful "translations" from the graphical aspect of the signs.

Dumbest idea ever (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313358)

is that simple

That's the video's last sentence, all the while I'm like "reeeaaally?". Using the video example, It's a lot faster for me to simply text "cafe @ 4?" (intentionally using "cafe" instead of "coffee" for texting brevity". People already use their own (usually) mutually intelligible l33tspeak when texting (sometimes with intelligent intention, and sometimes because they were never exposed to anything basic writing skills when graduating from HS.)

In Japan, typing and text users can type/text with latin characters with software automatically converting them to hiragana or Kanji. And I would assume it's the same in China, India or anywhere that uses either logograms, syllabaries or abugidas. People make up their own culture-specific conventions and shorthands with which to do texting and informal typing.

Unless I'm missing some revolutionary idea behind this, how does this improve the efficiency of texting when people already have their almost-universal, l33t-based shorthands? Also, this seems to miss these universal UI design rules:

  • Don't make me think - when using your UI to carry a task, if the UI forces me to think in amounts disproportional to the complexity and severity of the task, it is a fail. That is,
    • I should not have to scroll through multitudes of keyboards to be able to type "cafe @ 4?"
    • I should not have to configure keyboards preferences just so that I can type "cafe @ 4?"
  • When a user becomes proficient enough for a task (and a tool that carries that task), the user will always prefer keyboard short cuts over mouse/point-n-click operations.

I cringe at even the name of it: iConji - taking the name of a legitimate logogram system to baptize a solution looking for a problem (and a badly executed one to boot.)

Seriously, I'm really not one to fall for nerd bias here. I'm trying really hard to see this from the point of view of a typical texter, and I don't see this flying at all.

Direct your attention to Zlango.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313360)

An Israeli startup that had the same idea years ago.
http://www.zlango.com/

Didn't really catch up

Retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313406)

Instead of creating a new language, how about you just type out a fucking word?

Pixels? (1)

rawler (1005089) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313416)

Am I the only one here surprised that vectorized symbols are not encouraged, or required?

Sure, they can be retraced later, when someone needs the free-res version. But in 2010, isn't Vector-fonts kindof de-facto?

Need some way to make entry easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32313444)

Would you have a mobile phone with a keyboard that has 2000 buttons? No! Some better way must be found.

I propose a keyboard with so-called "letters" and you key in the combination of "letters" that corresponds to the symbol you want e.g. if you enter "C-A-T" then you choose the symbol for a cat while if you enter "C-A-P" you choose the symbol for a piece of headwear.

Technologies for a dying problem (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313534)

What are they inventing this NOW for? It could have been useful back in 1992. But nowadays phones have full keyboards or touch screens, and the older methods (e.g. T9) die quickly.

But considering how they practically re-“invent” hieroglyphs, I will await their coming re-invention of another very old idea: The wheel!

Re:Technologies for a dying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32313920)

Didn't Apple already do that?

A solution... (1)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313618)

...to a problem that doesn't exist. Esperanto anyone? They'd have more luck if they'd implemented Tolkien's Dwarven Runes.

Won't work: can't look down on shorthand (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313710)

This won't work at all. How will we be able to look down on these people for using short, concise symbols to represent long words, when that's proper use of the language? Let's keep normal texting around, so we can look down on people who use short abbreviations of words.

esperanto for the ikids (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32313856)

and just as useful

in a couple of years, google voice & google translate will do the heavy lifting anyway.

OB (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#32313922)

Apparently, my comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. I'm going to try less whitespace and/or less repetition.  who'sd have thought that my comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter?  What the joe heck is a "postercomment" compression filter anyway?

Will this fit in 32 x 32?

res ipsem    XXXXX
loqauatur  xx     xx
        xyXXX;x
        x      x
        x      x
        x      x res ipsem
        x      x  loquatur
        x      x
        x      x
       XXXXXx<--->xXXXXX
      ;     x      x    y
;    x     x      x    x y
x    x     x      x    x  x
x    x     x      x    x  x
x            x  x
x            x  x
x    res ipsem        ;
x     loquatur     ;
  y               ;
   y              ;
    x              x
    x              x

Apparently, my comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. I'm going to try less whitespace and/or less repetition.  who'd have thought that my comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter?  What the joe heck is a "postercomment" compression filter anyway?  I say again, "postercomment" compression filter - WTF does that mean?

Re:OB (1)

Dracker (1323355) | more than 2 years ago | (#32314044)

The filter exists because ASCII art is unwanted on Slashdot. Congratulations getting your art through. That doesn't mean it's wanted, and it's certainly not "OB" as your subject says. You could have just typed "A picture of a middle finger" much more easily, and of course that will fit into 32x32.
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