"You can't just arbitrarily take letters out of the alphabet."
November 18, 2014 10:17 AM   Subscribe

The Oral History of the Poop Emoji 💩 (or, how Google brought poop to America)

If you're using Google Chrome and seeing boxes instead of poops, the Chromoji extension will fill in the blanks for you.
posted by rouftop (38 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
If we're going to talk about 💩 then I feel it is mandatory to link to 💩.la.

And some notes from the person responsible for it.
posted by egypturnash at 10:26 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


what the deuce.
posted by boo_radley at 10:36 AM on November 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


Square boxes for me. Which means that my system must not be poop-ready, I guess. ("Designed for Poop™"?)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:47 AM on November 18, 2014


I have to say, despite everything this is surely a story that needed to be told. Who knew one little 💩 could cause so much trouble?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:48 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


this is surely a story that needed to be told.

Yes. There was no way she could just sit on this one.
posted by yoink at 10:58 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


On FireFox, 💩 does not have flies.
posted by localroger at 10:59 AM on November 18, 2014


Firefox's shit don't stink, man.
posted by yoink at 11:00 AM on November 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Letters, symbols, and composite symbols denoting letters, can mean many things. The Library A to Z was successfully funded and launched yesterday; each letter of the alphabet represents several things that public (and other) libraries do or offer.

Here are the illustrations, with some going up on Pinterest. And here's what the whole project is.
posted by Wordshore at 11:02 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that, within the article itself, the poop emoji isn't actually ever used but is instead replaced by an animated inline GIF. So to say that "As of 2014, every mobile and desktop operating system supports emoji" seems a bit ... premature. Or at least their web editor doesn't trust that it's actually true.

Unicode support is still a very long way away in my neck of the woods. Heck, I still stuff blow up due to ASCII control chars.

But good on Google for moving the ball forward.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:03 AM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


The emoji that shows up for me in Gmail (Firefox/Win7) does have flies but is very slightly different from the one in the article. It's a bit taller, like that mound of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters.
posted by exogenous at 11:04 AM on November 18, 2014


What a cute little happy piece of poop! 💩
posted by nikoniko at 11:09 AM on November 18, 2014


Important Unicode news: the new Emoji candidates for Unicode 8 are out, and include

HOT DOG
TACO
BURRITO

also

NERD FACE

Note that These are candidates—not yet finalized—so some may not appear in the release. You can submit feedback here.
posted by zamboni at 11:13 AM on November 18, 2014


That was the best article. As a software developer, I have to laugh so hard about who had to actually CODE and DESIGN the 💩. And who decided it needed animated flies. And all of the office politics surrounding including an icon of poop in a world-wide software release that actual companies use every day.

A++. Would 💩 again!
posted by jillithd at 11:18 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't that be an anal history?
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:27 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


"It's worth noting that, within the article itself, the poop emoji isn't actually ever used... "

They actually address that in the footnotes of the article:
We are sympathetic to that argument, but used Gmail's original poop emoji throughout the majority of this story for historical consistency.
So I think they specifically used the gifs so that it would display the historically accurate poop. The real shit, as it were.
posted by jillithd at 11:28 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I remember being so excited that I worked at a company that was huge and I was going to be able to make poop.
I've contemplated at times the odd meetings that must be behind pedantic things: the argument over stapler colors, say. The go-around with the note sequence of ringtones. I had never thought of the joy this might instead bring.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:37 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


BTW, the poop emoji was my friend's halloween costume, no biggie.
posted by Corduroy at 11:42 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Aside from being a bit truer to the original concept, the smiling poop emoji is also therapeutic to sculpt.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:07 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


But still not supported in Google Chrome for some reason. (this is one of the reasons sites like Twitter and Facebook have rolled their own implementations.
posted by OwlBoy at 12:15 PM on November 18, 2014


The oral history is dead. This article killed it.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2014


There's a billboard on I-880 in San Jose from a storage company (forget the name, so that's kind of a fail): "Get your 💩 together"
posted by kurumi at 12:53 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm using chrome so I'm only seeing the boxes, but I like to imagine that the billboard on I-880 actually says "Get your [] together" and the people who drive past it are so tech-savvy that they get it from context.
posted by moonmilk at 12:57 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


this is one of the reasons sites like Twitter and Facebook have rolled their own implementations.

"Pushed out their own," even.
posted by zippy at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


> Important Unicode news: the new Emoji candidates for Unicode 8 are out, and include ...

Still no symbol for "bed". Which, setting aside the opportunities for obvious jokes, has always been an odd choice of symbols to exclude.
posted by ardgedee at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2014


Still no symbol for "bed". Which, setting aside the opportunities for obvious jokes, has always been an odd choice of symbols to exclude.

Perhaps they don't want to shit where they sleep.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:03 PM on November 18, 2014


When emoji first came out, an email list I was on turned into non-stop emoji hentai for a few weeks.
posted by empath at 3:04 PM on November 18, 2014


If you are on Ubuntu and see merely boxes, "apt-get install ttf-ancient-fonts" followed by a browser restart works a treat.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Though it does not animate and it is not nearly as cute)
posted by en forme de poire at 3:36 PM on November 18, 2014


This article read like one big f- you to blind people
posted by neil pierce at 5:08 PM on November 18, 2014


zamboni: Have 100 more new emoji suggestions in the weirdest format possible, courtesy of Avery Monsen.
posted by BiggerJ at 5:13 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


This was a cute article but I'm not comfortable with their use of "language" to describe emoji. It's a set of symbols that a bunch of people use but I'm not sure it qualifies as a language.

Also, non-smiling poop is just terrible. It should always be smiling. Apple made theirs happy, Google spent lots of time making theirs technically accurate with realistic flies. Says something about the companies...
posted by mmoncur at 9:11 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


This article read like one big f- you to blind people
posted by neil pierce at 5:08 PM on November 18
The images did have alt tags... what would you propose for this story?

That comment did get me to thinking about emoji and accessibility. Since there's a limited icon set, it isn't a hard problem to create and store canned audio for each icon, though you might lose some cuteness. A quick search shows that the iPhone's text-to-speech accessibility option reads emoji out loud.
posted by rouftop at 9:29 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, hearing "smiling pile of poo" in Siri's voice is every bit as ridiculous as the actual icon.
posted by mmoncur at 9:47 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


So what happens if I select a bunch of emoji and change the font to Zapf Dingbats?
posted by straight at 9:49 PM on November 18, 2014


Ah, so in British English, 💩 means "poo", as opposed to "shit". You could totally say "oh poo" or "has she done a poo today?" where you wouldn't ever say "shit". Useful to know.
posted by alasdair at 2:00 AM on November 19, 2014


> This article read like one big f- you to blind people

I'm not sure whether you mean the article or emoji generally.

One of the good things to come out of formal inclusion of emoji into Unicode is the mandatory descriptions for each codepoint. A screenreader that's emoji-compatible should be able to accurately report each 😀 and 🙎 to a nonsighted person where a traditional :) or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is gibberish.
posted by ardgedee at 4:51 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


> So what happens if I select a bunch of emoji and change the font to Zapf Dingbats?

Nothing, at least on my platform (OS X). The emoji will stay emoji.

Dingbat fonts are spiritual predecessors to emoji, but since they long predate widespread usage of Unicode, they work a bit differently. Wingdings (as an example, since that's what I've got on this machine) turns the lowercase letters A through I into zodiac symbols, lowercase NOPQR into boxes with various fills and shades, and so on. In other words, Wingdings uses the Cancer zodiac symbol to represent the “code point” that all other fonts use for lowercase A. Hence you can take text that was written in Wingdings, change the font to Helvetica, and now you’ve got letters.

The difference with emoji is that they don't “shadow” the common ASCII characters, which is why you can’t type them on your standard QWERTY keyboard like you can with Wingdings. The emoji font that comes with OS X uses 💩 to represent the “code point” that Unicode has defined to mean “pile of poo.” Hence it means “pile of poo” no matter which font you’re using. Hence you can select a string of emoji, change the font to Helvetica, and now you… definitely don’t have letters, because emoji uses code points that don’t map to letters of any alphabet.

Now, obviously, most fonts don’t have a character for “pile of poo.” But this is a solved problem; lots of fonts don’t have, say, Arabic characters, but as long as there’s at least one font on your system that does have Arabic characters, OS X is smart enough to fall back to that font when needed. Same with emoji. OS X has a font called Apple Color Emoji that it uses to depict emoji. In TextEdit, I can copy and paste your comment, select the whole thing, change the font to Cambria, and TextEdit is smart enough to change the letters to Cambria while leaving the Emoji as-is.

Of course, it’s still possible to have multiple emoji fonts on your system. And emoji are unlike dingbat fonts (in which you could select text written in Zapf Dingbats and change the font to Wingdings and end up with different symbols); they’re much more like standard fonts. A capital A looks a certain way in Helvetica; I can change it to Times New Roman and see how it looks a bit different, but it’s still an A. Likewise, if I had two emoji fonts, I could switch between one and the other and notice how the design details are different, but they are both clearly depicting poop.

(Though if you’ve got multiple emoji fonts, I don’t know how the OS decides which one to use as the standard fallback, but I’m sure you can define a priority list somewhere.)
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:56 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


As for why Chrome doesn’t support emoji out of the box on OS X: there’s a ticket for it. Seems there’s some arcanum in the font drawing API that Chrome isn’t using. Font rendering in general differs between Safari and Chrome because Chrome is a cross-platform browser and thus has its own abstraction for rendering text. Whereas, as far as I know, any standard app written for OS X gets emoji support for free.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:11 AM on November 19, 2014


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