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OPLIN 4cast #411: Better emoji

Posted in 4cast

emojiA few weeks ago, we considered doing a 4cast about emoji. Emoji are not really new, however – we’re just hearing more about them lately – and frankly, some of you guys out there probably know more about them than we do. But last week, the Unicode Consortium, which is working on guidelines for making emoji characters that can be used across a wide variety of platforms, released a new draft of those guidelines that included a section on diversity. Now emoji are becoming a richer “language” that might be used for some serious communication.

  • Unicode wants to fix emoji’s ethnicity problem (ReadWrite | Lauren Orsini)  “The Unicode Consortium notes that emoji were originally intended to have a ‘a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette,’ but Japanese carriers soon set a light skinned precedent, intending the emoji to look like the Japanese people who first used them. Since emoji use has long since spread from Japan to the rest of the world, emoji diversity is overdue.”
  • Proposed changes to emoji standard would allow for more diversity, increased selection of skin tones (TechCrunch | Sarah Perez)  “They weren’t encoded into the Unicode Standard until 2010, but having originally grown out of a smaller geographic region, the ‘generic’ images being used didn’t accurately reflect the diversity found elsewhere in the world. Over time, things have progressed … slowly. Apple updated its emoji collection in 2012 to include a lesbian and homosexual couple, for example. But even then, people wanted to know, where were the black emoji?”
  • Unicode proposes a way to let an emoji black man and white woman hold hands (Ars Technica | Casey Johnston)  “To introduce diversity, the developers propose introducing five color swatch emojis of skin tones that, when combined with an existing person emoji, would render as a single ‘emoji presentation’ with the skin color in question. So for instance, a font could take a boy face plus brown swatch and render a boy with a brown skin tone and darker hair.”
  • Proposed draft Unicode technical report #51: Diversity (Unicode Consortium | Mark Davis and Peter Edberg, eds.)  “There are several emoji for multi-person groups, such as COUPLE WITH HEART. The emoji modifiers affect all the people in such characters. However, real multi-person groupings include many in which various members have different skin tones. For representing such groupings, users can employ techniques already found in current emoji practice, in which a sequence of emoji is intended to be read together as a unit, with each emoji in the sequence contributing some piece of information about the unit as a whole.”

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