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Kurita, a designer and engineer for Japanese phone operator Do Co Mo, saw that people were sending pictures to each other via text. What if you could assign a code to little pictures, just like text?
Users would select a heart, but the phone would see it as a code, and thus, it could easily send that code to another device and tell it to display a heart. Do Co Mo soon designed and programmed 176 different symbols, which Kurita called emoji, a combination of the Japanese e (絵, “picture”) moji (文字, “character”).
But in reality, they’re just a group of 20-ish Silicon Valley-ers. “It was like showing up to church for the first time.”The fact that the approval of emoji was being controlled by this small, homogenous group troubled Lee.
They’re mostly old, mostly white, mostly male, and they meet in a sterile conference room once a week. She reached out to Brooks, whom she was working with on a journalism project called Hacks/Hackers, to help.
I’m at Emojicon, which I pictured in the previous days as a cousin to Comic-con—a lavish event thrown by BIG EMOJI, packed with vendor halls and costumed emoji fanatics.Because there are 5 different skin tones on the Fitzpatrick scale and 2 genders in emoji world, there are 55 possible couple combinations, which creates a lot of UX complexities.)Mc Culloch is the rockstar of Emojicon—by far the best speaker and the biggest expert at the event.I meet her backstage, hoping to make the most #woke impression possible.They ask who’s heard of Emojination, the group they founded, and is throwing the event. Emojination began two years ago when Lee, a former New York Times reporter and cofounder of a literary studio called Plympton, wondered why there wasn’t a dumpling emoji. The goal: to ensure that text and symbols appear the same across devices.The Consortium has been been described as the “shadowy overlords” of emoji by the LA Times.
Today, over 5 billion are sent on Facebook Messenger each day, and Facebook’s platform constitutes just a small percentage of all time spent on emoji-enabled platforms.