PARIS – Another day of no music at the open mics for me as I work on my books and documentary film intensively this August break. Somehow, I was reminded of a story I wrote and published in the newspaper where I worked in February 1996. The story could go almost go into my rejected stories category, as one of the top editors of the time tried to stop the opinion page editor from publishing the story, saying that it was old news and that everyone in the world knew this stuff anyway. The story was about smileys on the Internet, and the premise of the story was – humorously said – that the latest high technology of the day – the Internet – had brought back letter writing, and above all, had sent the world back into prehistoric times as we suddenly reverted to using a modern form of hieroglyphics – the smiley.
My op-ed page editor who wanted to run the story defended the writing approach and style, and the story appeared. And again, while the all-knowing other, critical, editor said it was useless information that we all knew, the story was good enough to attract the attention of the Repubblica, one of Italy’s major newspapers, and within days of its appearance in my paper, it appeared in the Repubblica, on its op-ed page, translated into Italian. I’m putting that Italian translation on this site, along with the original English version of my Internet smileys story from 1996, which was not exactly years into the phenomenon in the popular mind. So here, too, is my first bit of Italian on this site….