➡😊🏃 (The emoji are coming!)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging… I’m still all nonprofit all the time, in case you were worried. ?

Sometimes the stars (?) align and you just have to write (✒) about something. Last week, I was seeing emoji everywhere! Now you will too.

When Does One Emoji?

It all started with seeing the New York Times’ recent article about the growing tension in American society over when it is acceptable to use emoji, those little happy faces that turn our emoticons into cute pictographs. I could do without conflating gender roles with emotional vs. serious communication, but the article still was interesting:

Yet the little guys (and gals, and farm animals, and foodstuffs) aren’t without controversy. Word-centric fuddy-duddies see the decline of literacy reflected in their heart-shaped eyes, while guardians of decorum lament the spread of greasy kid stuff dripping from the characters’ snail trails.

But I must say, I think I was a bit ahead of the curve with my take on using emoticons and more aggressive punctuation in emails:

Email is a terribly unsubtle means of communication. A one-liner email —for instance, “Good job.”—has no contextual clues such as tone of voice and facial expression to judge the intended meaning. Does the person think I did a good job or are they unimpressed but not motivated enough to give real feedback?

However crude, these “tacky” writing techniques embed additional information about how the author intends the recipient to interpret their message. “Good job!” is much less ambiguous. So is, “Hooray for tax season… :(”

While they may be tiny and there are only 722 of them, you can do a lot with emoji! Emoji Dick…really…is in the library of congress and (Spoiler Alert!) here’s the entire plot of The Shining in emoji:


Limitations of Emoji

It was exactly three years ago last Tuesday, when I began raising awareness about the dangers of punctuation altering our smilies. I’m happy to say, emoji stand to solve most of these problems:

Scenario: Sock and Buskin [Ed. note: ?]
Example: :-) & :-(
Result: Comedy. Sad Elvis.

Scenario: Alternatively-Punctuated Dr. Seuss Quotations
Example: 1 ><> ; 2 ><>; ><>; ><>.
Result: I don’t like the way those fish are winking at me.

But of course, not all emoji are for everyone. Emoji originally grew out of Japanese culture and so there are strange blind spots. You’ll have no trouble texting someone some sushi, but good luck finding a hot dog (for now).

Indeed, the Japanese vocabulary is most notable for what it fails to offer Americans. For example, there is no middle-finger hand signal. Or the good-luck signal of fingers crossed. No Vulcan salute to live long and prosper, which would have been much appreciated following the recent death of Leonard Nimoy, who played a Vulcan on “Star Trek.”

Want to tell your boss you’re too sick to go to work? The face mask emoji works in Japan, where regular people wear them in public. In America your boss might think you quit to go to med school or started robbing banks. (There is also no broken-down car, also useful for excuses.)

That also means there’s not much racial diversity among the current available emoji, though people are working on that!

Coming to a WordPress Site Near You!

And that all brings us to today. I just updated my site to WordPress 4.2 (beta-4) so I could write this post with emoji! They’re coming in WordPress 4.2 and can even be used in titles and URLs! ((Emoji in URLs are one sign of the coming apocalypse.)) Don’t believe me, just come look at this post in a browser!

WordPress 4.2 should be out in the next week or so, so get ready for more emoji once ~25% of the web has better support.

❓??? (What Do You Think?)

Do you emoji? Only at certain times?

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