The Web smiley's motto: Grin and bear it

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Author Vladimir Nabokov said in a 1969 New York Times interview that "there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile--some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket."

Now, nearly four decades later, there is just such a typographical symbol-- Smile, or Smile for the minimalists, and it'd be tough to find a tech-savvy person who hasn't leaned on it. There's also a special typographical symbol for a frown-- Sad -- and one for a cool dude in sunglasses -- Cool -- and one for a wink -- Wink. There's even a typographical sign for wearing a baseball cap-- d=D.

These are emoticons (or emotive icons), the arrangements of letters and symbols that have been inserted into e-mails, message board posts, and instant messages since the fledgling days of the Internet.

But the Internet is changing.

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