Facebook wants an awful lot from its emoticons: They should be able to convey complex emotions, for example, like contemplation, admiration, affirmation, maternal love, determination, devotion, resignation, and gratitude.
But how, in a tiny digital image, do you depict something as subtle as shame as opposed to remorse, or shyness as opposed to modesty? Current emoticons can't do that, or anything close to it. So Facebook has turned to Pixar story illustrator and former storyboard artist at the Wallace and Gromit studio Matt Jones, to help make something entirely new. He's charged, basically, with reinventing the smiley.
There are quite a few forums I visit on a semi-regular basis that have animated emoticons covering a whole range of emotions, and they almost always lower the quality of the conversation. Sometimes I've seen discussions about pop culture basically devolve into short novels made up of character-sized animated faces. Does Facebook really want to devolve the standard wall conversation even further? Will emoticons that are more complex than the standard concepts you can cobble together out of a few punctuation marks catch on with the general public? Wouldn't it be better for society in general if everyone just learned how to use their words?