Why You Need Emoji

Evans_BR-1

Excerpt from this article:

The rich, communicative context available in face-to-face encounters is largely absent from digital communication. Digital text alone is impoverished and, on occasion, emotionally arid. Textspeak, seemingly, possesses the power to strip all forms of nuanced expression from even the best of us. But here emoji can help: It fulfills a similar function in digital communication to gesture, body language, and intonation in spoken interaction. Emoji, in text messaging and other forms of digital communication, enables us to better express tone and provide emotional cues; and this enables us to better manage the ongoing flow of information, and to interpret what the words are meant to convey.

In fact, the idea that digital text, used alone, sucks away the nuancing has even been given its own name: Poe’s law. Based on comments made originally by Nathan Poe on how to parody fundamentalist views, Poe’s law is now an Internet adage, widely cited on web forums and chat rooms; it even has its own Wikipedia page. According to the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Poe’s law states the following: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” In short, when poking fun in digital communication, emojis are best used for avoidance of doubt.

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Digital Artist Yung Jake Scores With Emoji Portraits

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Depicting celebrities like Justin Bieber, Leonardo DiCaprio, Willow Smith and Kim Kardashian West (with strawberry lips and Magic 8 Ball eyes), Yung Jake’s paintings are sprightly renditions of digital images he began making in 2015 with an application developed by Vince McElvie, a business partner and friend. Using emoji.ink as his tool, Yung Jake found he could “paint” pointillist portraits assembled from hundreds of goofy images of movie cameras, rabbits, moons, clouds, smiley faces, honey pots and, yes, poop.

“I just happened to be good at it, so I did a bunch of celebrities,” Yung Jake said in a text message, his preferred form of communication. “I sent a lot to my famous friends knowing they’d post.”

What hieroglyphics, emoji, and stickers have in common

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The oldest written language in the world didn’t have an alphabet. When written language began, it wasn’t used to ‘sound out’ words the way many writing systems do today; instead, each symbol represented a word (or occasionally part of a word). If that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because speaking with pictures is a familiar concept — modern Chinese (hanzi) is a kind of logographic writing system, as is Japanese kanji. Younger readers, of course, may jump to an even more modern example of a logographic writing system — stickers.

There has been a lot of ink spilled about how stickers and emoji are bringing about the death of modern communication, but that draws an incorrect (and Western-biased, and frankly kind of racist) parallel: that language evolved from a logographic language (hieroglyphics, say) into an alphabetic language (English). In point of fact, English didn’t evolve from a logographic system at all; it’s a cousin, not a child. And Mandarin, whose billion active speakers make it the single most spoken language in the world, uses a syllable-based logographic language system.

Now, linguists may object to the classification of emoji as a logographic writing system.

 

Safety pins as a symbol of solidarity against racism

Safety Pin

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Post-Brexit, people in the UK started wearing safety pins to show their stance against racism and their solidarity with immigrants.

…In the wake of the election [in the US] and reports of racism incidents across the nation, some are advocating using the safety pin strategy here too.

… There’s no safety pin emoji, but some people are adding the paperclip emoji to their Twitter usernames as a virtual world counterpart to the safety pin.

 

Emoji diversity: how ‘silly little faces’ can make a big difference

‘Emoji may seem trivial, but when you aren’t represented by something that’s so widely used, it’s a problem,’ says researcher Kate Miltner.

Excerpt from this article (thanks for the link, Paul M!):

Emoji users feel a significant ownership over these tiny digital symbols, as evidenced by the reaction when Apple swapped the gun emoji for a water pistol and changed the peach emoji to look less like a butt, or when a Saudi teen designed her own headscarf-wearing emoji…

Yet there are more serious cultural problems highlighted by the rise of emoji, particularly how to make them more inclusive to people of different races, genders and physical abilities. Until a range of skintones were introduced for emoji in 2015, there were no options for making emoji anything other than white (or cartoon yellow) – and even the new set of modifiers were only introduced after public outrage about lack of diversity…

“Emoji may seem trivial, just silly little faces, but when you aren’t represented by something that’s so widely used, it’s a problem. The values either intentionally – or unintentionally – baked into the systems we use on a daily basis can deeply impact people and how they navigate their world,” said Miltner, a PhD student at USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, who conducted extensive interviews with, and analyzed hundreds of emails from, the Unicode Consortium, the official body which standardizes emoji.

Judging Others by Their Email Tics

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…Sure, there was a time it may have been appropriate, even cool, to tout the default “Sent from my iPhone,” a programmed plug-in (and a genius little bit of branding). But these days, that one-liner signals only one thing: bore. So instead, you must come up with something witty. “Sent from a bumpy tarmac,” you might write, followed by a custom GIF. “Envoi de mon iPhone,” if you want to be fancy (and French).

…And so goes the tyranny of judging one another by the minutiae of our email tone. I’m not just talking signoffs like “cheers” or “thanks” (which, for what it’s worth, have prompted a debate of their own). I’m talking next-level nuance: a well-placed emoji, a perfectly timed GIF; what microseconds between replies say about the sender.

“This isn’t just email, this is identity,” said Hilary Campbell, a 25-year-old cartoonist in Brooklyn. “I feel like I’m always trying to balance this sense of being a smart, sensible, reliable person who is also very FUN and quirky.”

…Research has found that when parties are getting along, they tend to mimic each other’s subtle speech patterns: “language synchrony,” as it is known. In which case, if I email with proper capitalization, and you reply with an all-lowercase email, should I be taking offense? “That’s a classic power move,” the digital strategist Victor Pineiro said. “You can’t be bothered to craft a properly capitalized email?”