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November 4, 2014 12:03 PM   Subscribe

2015: The Year of Emoji Diversity - The Unicode Consortium has released a technical report detailing a new method for handling the representation of multi-ethnic groups in emoji that may work its way into Unicode 8.0

"Given that none of the major platforms yet support the new Unicode 7.0 emoji characters, (released earlier this year), it is not clear how long we will wait to see Unicode 8.0 updates included in iOS, OS X, Android or Windows.

Apple, Google or Microsoft have not made statements regarding their plans for Unicode 7.0 emoji, however Apple is on the record supporting emoji racial diversity."
posted by a lungful of dragon (34 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Apple is on the record supporting emoji racial diversity.

Surely no one is opposed to racial diversity in emoji, no?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:09 PM on November 4, 2014


Surely no one is opposed to racial diversity in emoji, no?

I guess I should have pulled more of the quote from the article. Or maybe the whole article. There's more there to read.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:12 PM on November 4, 2014


Unicode Version 8.0 is adding 5 symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji.

Heh, I think is what I had suggested before. They'll have a matrix of emojis, like accented characters.
posted by GuyZero at 12:15 PM on November 4, 2014


I remain cautiously optimistic that this will not be used to pioneer a new era of blackface "humor."
posted by psoas at 12:16 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, while Google hasn't made a statement, the main author on the linked paper is a Google employee.
posted by GuyZero at 12:18 PM on November 4, 2014


I am opposed to emoji altogether. As a corrollary of that, I am opposed to racial diversity in emoji.
posted by Hizonner at 12:31 PM on November 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Surely no one is opposed to racial diversity in emoji, no?

I guess you've never met this guy: 😠
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:37 PM on November 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


The skin-colored smiley faces look a little creepy to me in every one of the skin colors they show.

I realize that the default "unrealistic" yellow tone is white-ish, but way more clear-cut is the emoji that are usually depicted as white-person-colored. Like all the hands and ears and noses and stuff. What the heck?

From a practical point of view, I'd be more optimistic about this if there were better support for the combining characters that have been in the Unicode standard since 1.0.
posted by aubilenon at 12:39 PM on November 4, 2014


I really hate that one blank-eyed guy with the mustache.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:49 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


The longer term solution proposed is to allow arbitrary symbols to be uploaded, so you can have things like Line stickers directly supported in the standard. Ugh.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:55 PM on November 4, 2014


Not all emoji.
posted by Fizz at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really hate that one blank-eyed guy with the mustache.

Natty Boh?
posted by capricorn at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Why would you want arbitrary symbols to be uploaded? It actually seems fairly elegant to use Unicode's support for modifiers (most commonly used to produce diacritical marks) to implement this feature if anybody actually wants to use it.

"Private" emoji repositories seem like an incredibly bad idea, and is opposed to Unicode's entire rationale for existing.
posted by schmod at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


The longer term solution proposed is to allow arbitrary symbols to be uploaded

That sounds like an excellent new malware vector.
posted by echo target at 1:19 PM on November 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is this the first Unicode Technical Report to include "ಠ_ಠ"?
posted by grouse at 1:21 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


from the technical report:
"We may consider documenting for some of these that—despite the name—the depiction should be gender-neutral. Possibilities include: father christmas"
posted by Bwithh at 1:36 PM on November 4, 2014


"Man in business suit levitating"

what is this emoji (do Microsoft webdings even count) used for??
posted by Bwithh at 1:38 PM on November 4, 2014


what is this emoji (do Microsoft webdings even count) used for??

It's just a shorthand way to refer to the spectral businessmen who follow you around recording your failures and misdeeds.

What?
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:43 PM on November 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


No, it means "this conversation is becoming surreal".
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:45 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


what is "Man in business suit levitating" used for??

It's for the new Observers in the Fringe reboot.
posted by morganw at 3:26 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I thought it meant "have you caught up on Nightvale?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:55 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I realize that the default "unrealistic" yellow tone is white-ish

I don't know if i was ever sold on this. it always red as vaguely cartoon asian to me, which made sense because they originated in japan.

Where they weirded it up was adding the white and brown characters in. I've been team "no, they're a color no real person is" since the beginning.

I just haven't been able to articulate that i think this is a really stupid call out culture/outrage for it's own sake thing in a way that i felt comfortable with as a white-passing biracial person and also figured i'd get some "how DARE you" smackdown anywhere i posted it. I know, silenced all my life, but still this seems like a really weird thing to get all het up over.

They should have just gone "ok, now all smileys are purple" or something. I just can't get over feeling like "i can't identify with a little cartoon character that's yellow because i think yellow makes it look like a white person" isn't something i can take seriously. Do you think the wallmart low prices smiley face reads as white? I just don't get it.
posted by emptythought at 3:56 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Thanks Obama!
posted by symbioid at 4:05 PM on November 4, 2014


Yeah, if you are a white person and are smiley-yellow you need your liver enzymes tested.

Really though, Apple, Google, and Microsoft could redo their icons at any time so that people are a non-race-specific skin color. They don't have to wait for the standard to be updated. There's some kind of Mutually Assured Diversity strategy going on here.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:21 PM on November 4, 2014


I realize that the default "unrealistic" yellow tone is white-ish

Wait, aren't they just based on the original smiley face?
posted by Room 641-A at 4:25 PM on November 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Back in the good old days, you had the black smiley face and the white smiley face, ASCII #1 and #2. (But not necessarily in that order, depending on whether you were on the screen or on the printer.) And we liked it that way.
posted by Hatashran at 5:27 PM on November 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


what is "Man in business suit levitating" used for??

Oh, that's just Slenderman, manifesting himself into the real world via unicode. Don't look away. Don't blink.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:43 PM on November 4, 2014


I don't know if i was ever sold on this. it always red as vaguely cartoon asian to me, which made sense because they originated in japan.

Well, there is some precedent that yellow is meant to represent some sort of "generic" human skin color. In LEGO, all non-licensed minifigures are yellow-skinned, whether they're Pirates, South Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, or Ninjas.

But, it's definitely not standardized. The Simpsons, white people have yellowish skin, while Asian people like Akira have a slightly paler yellow. And of course, Carl is black, so he has brown skin.
posted by FJT at 8:15 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm another vote for "yellow skin color means generic". The more "realistic" emoji always seem a bit creepy to me, and I think realistic skin colors will only increase that. Also, how far do we want to go? Hair is at least a strong a "racial" marker as skin color; facial features can be, too. There's a fine line between realism and caricature here, and I think it would be better to move away from any implication that emoji are meant to actual resemble any person or group of people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:26 PM on November 4, 2014


Where's the "jumped the shark" character? I looked, but couldn't find it.
posted by dylanjames at 9:28 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Personally I just want a wider range of dragon-related emoji. There are all of two. Three if you count the 'fire' image.
posted by egypturnash at 9:48 PM on November 4, 2014


Around here we've been waiting for some cheese related emoji.

(Yes, I live in Wisconsin. Why do you ask?)
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:02 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


:'-(
posted by davemee at 5:13 AM on November 5, 2014


Reading the first article, the yellow love smiley face just looks more human to me than the skin tone ones. The skin tone love smilies all look like decorated cookies to me.
posted by yeolcoatl at 6:46 AM on November 5, 2014


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