Ripples #1217: Tickling Dragons :-)


If you can’t take the heat, don’t tickle the dragon.
-Scott Fahlman, shared by Sandra in Seattle, WA


We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species.
-Desmond Morris, shared by Scott in Pittsburgh, PA via this post


I was instantly captivated and also curious when I originally encountered the Fahlman quote featured as today’s Pebble. It made me giggle, and I wanted to learn more about its origin story. It turns out that it was a playful variation on Harry Truman’s classic line, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” originated by a college professor who observed that students and colleagues sometimes ask for his feedback and then bristle when they don’t like what he has to say. I ended up trading emails with Dr. Fahlman, who shared a linkย  to some of his favorite quotes…which is where I found today’s Boulder.

Unless you took one of his classes, or are deeply familiar with the field of artificial intelligence where he’s made considerable contributions, you may not recognize Dr. Fahlman’s name. But I bet you’re familiar with the ๐Ÿ™‚ smiley emoticon that he invented and first used exactly forty years ago TODAY on September 19, 1982. You can read Scott’s fun and fascinating version of the origin and evolution of the smiley here. Like so many things, these digital emoticons took on a life of their own and evolved in meaning and purpose, but it really does make me ๐Ÿ™‚ to know that the smiley was created in an attempt to improve electronic communication with its inherent limitations around conveying emotion and intent.

So today’s Ripples is a grinning nod to Dr. Fahlman, whose line about tickling dragons reminds us to keep our hearts and minds open to feedback that can help us grow; whose quote contribution as today’s Boulder encourages us to keep tickling dragons; and finally,ย  whose cheerful ๐Ÿ™‚ encourages us to let the world know when we’re trying to lighten up the world.

If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it, share a smile today! ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S. In our initial email exchange, Scott playfully corrected my ๐Ÿ™‚ and explained that the original smiley included a dash for the nose. ๐Ÿ™‚

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