The online world has its own cliches and truisms, none so haggard as the belief that reliable written communication is impossible without frequent use of>
emoticons, better known as the "smileys."
Irony, it seems, is like nitroglycerin: too tricky to be good for much, and so best left in the hands of fanatics or trained professionals.
It is as if the written word were a cutting-edge technology without useful
precedents. Some hackers actually go so far as to maintain, with a straight face
(:-I), that words on a computer screen are different from words on paper--implying that writers of e-mail have nothing useful to learn from Dickens or Hemingway, and that time spent reading old books might be better spent coming up with new emoticons.
Read it all at http://kumo.swcp.com/synth/text/text.smileys
Irony alert!: the emoticon at the end of the first sentence was used ironically; )