Not getting enough likes on that hilarious joke you made on Facebook? Google’s new patent suggests you forgo boring old plain text and put it in a cute little comic strip instead.
According to a report from GeekWire, Google was yesterday awarded a patent for something it call “Self-creation of comic strips in social networks and other communications.” It’s a way of formatting your insightful thoughts—you know, like what you had for breakfast—into a little comic strip that could be shared via social networks (and not just Google+). It follows Google patents for such quirky innovations as e-tattoos and, er, heart-shaped hand gestures.
The patent, which was filed back in 2010 and which you can see in full here, describes the idea as follows:
Communications to be shared on social networks and other electronic modes of communication are presented in comic strip form. The comic strips are created with a simplified user interface and are formatted to be well-suited for display on a selected social network or other electronic facility. The comic strips are displayed in an embedded form directly in the social network or other facility, without the need for a user to go to a separate site to view the comic strip.
Essentially, it takes a conversation between two people and puts it into the mouths (or speech bubbles) of cartoon characters. The user can give it a witty title and select a theme for the comic strip before sharing it over email or on a social networking site such as Facebook.
Joseph Volpe at Engadget pointed out that it’s hardly a brand new idea; a similar service called Microsoft Comic Chat was around as early as 1996. The main difference with Google’s new idea is the shareable element, which could make it stiff competition for services like Bitstrips that currently let you post comic strip-type posts to social media.
Google’s patent suggests its comic strip system could be most useful to communicate funny things, like jokes. “Presently, a user who has a funny item, such as a joke, to share with others does not have a way to do so readily other than by plain text,” it states, and adds that these kind of text posts are often lost in timelines full of other more visual content like photos and videos.
It’s a problem you never knew you had, and Google reckons comic strips could be the solution. That said, if their example “joke” (see top image) is anything to go by, the laughs might be wearing thin pretty soon after the novelty of the idea wears off.
Of course, the system could also be employed for more serious communications, and the patent foresees a time when we can all get our news in bitesize cartoon form. “Aside from humor, such comic strips are also usable for education, for instance in summarizing a real-time conversation between two political leaders as it is happening,” it reads. “By posting such a comic strip on a social network facility such as a social network blog or tweet, others may more readily follow the flow of the conversation than if it had been summarized in plain text.”
Because reading is just so 2013.