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  • all right.

  • Ah, hi, everyone.

  • Welcome.

  • And thank you for coming.

  • I'm pleased today to introduce Jenny Lee, who is a vice chair of the Unicode Emoji subcommittee.

  • Graduated from the college herself and is back in Cambridge today to talk with us all about emoji.

  • So please join me in welcoming Jenny Lee.

  • Thank you.

  • I stand think here is good.

  • So a fun fact professor and Malin and I actually, we're in the same class at Harvard, and I actually took CS 50 as, ah, freshman, because I was in applied math and economics, Major.

  • But at that point, it was not like the lifestyle brand that has since become s O.

  • I definitely appreciate, like all the bells and whistles and the fact that we now get free pizza and, like, lots of live streaming, So Ah, David, I guess, Saw.

  • I guess maybe you saw Jimmy Kimmel appearance I had on emoji and asked me to come speak.

  • So I'm gonna give you sort of a fun overview of like, how does an emoji become an emoji?

  • Um, So I'm going to start the story with my friend whose name is being Lou, who is a designer very well known for having designed a Twitter fail well, And she's Chinese Australia, and I'm Chinese American, and we were texting about dumplings.

  • So that is what Chinese ish women do with each other.

  • And so I texted her.

  • You know, this photo of dumplings that I was cooking and she was like, Yum, yum, yum, yum fried dumplings, You know, Hey, a knife and fork, knife and fork and then letting She's like, I'm surprised that apple doesn't have a dumpling emoji.

  • And I was like, Oh, huh, Good point.

  • And then, like, you know, that would probably been the end of anything because, you know, many conversations just sort of end on the like surprise that something doesn't exist.

  • But half an hour later on my screen pops like this dumpling with blinking eyes.

  • You don't actually get the whole full of fact of, like, the bling bling dumpling ah, that she had created.

  • And she had decided to design her own dumpling emoji because she was designer.

  • And she's like, I can fix this them.

  • I was really kind of startled when I discovered there was no dumpling emoji, right, cause like I knew that emoji originally Japanese.

  • And that's why there are a lot of Japanese foods on the keyboard, right?

  • Um, so you know, there's Rahman.

  • There's the bento box.

  • There's curry.

  • There's Campora.

  • They're, like, kind of a bunch of weird Japanese foods.

  • Like Think these were like, fit?

  • I've seen this on this region.

  • Japan, I think, like fishy things on a stick.

  • This is a fish cake you wanted to call old.

  • And yeah, they have.

  • And it's their fishy things.

  • Very honesty.

  • Um, basically, I mean, there's even like the whole, like rice ball that looks like it's had a bikini wax.

  • And so But there was no dumpling emoji, which I thought was very strange because, like if you think about it, dumplings or universal food like every country, has their version of a dumb playing like it's an empanada or paro G or, um, you know, uh, Paul Meany or like even ravioli is a form of dumpling like essentially like there's universal truth of yummy goodness inside her car boy carbohydrate shell that basically every culture has discovered.

  • Um, so I was like, Okay, dumplings are universal, and, of course, a movie or universal and the fact that therefore, there wasn't a dumb thing about due to told me whatever system in place was like, basically broken.

  • So I was like, I'm gonna go fix this.

  • I had, like, no idea where emoji came from, but I was like a woman on a mission to define herself for dumpling emoji.

  • So I was like, Who controls Emoji?

  • Knew nothing about it.

  • But, you know, if you Google and very quickly, you get to the website and I did of the Unicode Consortium, which is a nonprofit organization based in Mountain View, California, who has Ah.

  • At that point, I discovered 12 full voting members, nine of which were U S multinational tech companies.

  • So this was in late 2005 when I started going down the rabbit hole.

  • So these companies the nine where things like Oracle and IBM and Microsoft, Adobe, Google, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo Of the three that were not U s multinational tech companies, but they were German company ASAP, the Chinese company Cua way, which no one had heard of back then.

  • But like a lot of people have heard of now and then the government of Oman, right, so these were These were the 12 full voting members who paid $18,000 a year to vote on emoji.

  • And I was, like, kind of horrified by this, like, the sort of like, you know, tech took a ball plus Oman.

  • Um, so So I was, like, very indignant, first of all, and I also discovered, like, $18,000 times like 12 wouldn't take that much money to take overthe code conservative.

  • But luck leaders like this tiny little loophole, which is that you conjoined as individual for $75?

  • Uh, no voting, voting power.

  • But you get to show up at the meetings and you cannot add it to their mental us.

  • So, you know, I'm like, Okay, you know, like I like, you know, paid my $75 online.

  • We're using a credit card and, like, became a Unicode member.

  • Like, join the email And I was like, Okay, I'm on a mission and and so they had They have these meetings, and so, you know, you're an email list and they send out this Ah RSVP request and said, Who's going to come to the next meeting?

  • It was like in October.

  • I think we're November.

  • I looked at my calendar and I was like, I will be in the Bay area at that time.

  • And I like our escapee back.

  • I will come.

  • And I don't completely know what I was expecting.

  • Um, so essentially, maybe, like, a little congress, Like a very many Congress or something.

  • But I took my, you know, I got on public transit and actually went to the apple headquarters.

  • This is in Sunnyvale, and, you know, I don't know.

  • Maybe I thought was like to be, like, 100 people.

  • Maybe like the number of people in this room, but sort of like, more neatly organized and sort of, you know, a Nancy Pelosi kind of style like art.

  • But it is not what I found.

  • This is the room where people decide these are the people who decide your emoji.

  • Ah, these were this is a photo from the November 2015.

  • Um, and it was really weird because first of all, they were super excited to see me because they have.

  • Most of these people have been working together for like, 25 years.

  • And, like new people don't just, like, randomly show up and they're like, you know, tell us about yourself.

  • What brings you here?

  • We're so happy to see you.

  • And it totally had the vibe of, like, a new church.

  • Like, really, really, really nice old white people.

  • And so the the sort of group, you know, they were basically mostly male, mostly engineers, Um, mostly older.

  • And, you know, one of them even had a daughter that had made him a shirt that said shadowy emoji overlord.

  • This is the chair of the Unicode Emoji, some committee, and the president of Unicode, Mark Davis.

  • So, um, they just sort of word debating about emoji, You know, things like milk.

  • Should it be, uh, glass of milk?

  • Should it be a bottle of milk should be a carton of milk.

  • Cartons are universal, you know?

  • Then there was, like so, you know, kind of big debate about milk.

  • And then there was, like, this question about beans, red beans, green beans, black pains like which being should we choose?

  • And it was like parallel paralysis over the color of being, So there's no being emoji.

  • If you haven't noticed, there is a glass of milk emoji and I was like, this system is, like, clearly broken and, like, I'm gonna go fix it.

  • So, um, I created a group.

  • It's called Imagination, Whose motto is emoji by the people for the people.

  • So it was me and my friend eating from way back when And, um And then you know, our you know, our motto is more inclusive and representative Emoji, you're starting with a dumpling, which was our mission to begin with.

  • So, you know, started this campaign.

  • We're gonna get the dumpling emoji and made a Kickstarter video.

  • Um, in the dumpling emoji project, I think dumpling emoji.

  • That work is still alive.

  • And I think, Okay, does the video work?

  • And we made this video dumpling that one of the most universal cross cultural feeds in the world.

  • Georgia Haskin, Callie, Japan s Cosa Korea Has Mandy is Leah's ravioli Poland His burrow g Richard has How many?

  • Argentina hasn't.

  • Jewish people have crept left.

  • China has pot stickers poor and Tibet have Momo's.

  • Yet somehow, despite the popularity, there was no dumpling emoji in this town and set Is that in motivators for pizza temporal sushi, spaghetti hot dog on their tackles, His Taco Bell Express way need to write this disparity dumplings A global emoji global.

  • Isn't it time we brought them together?

  • Oh, yeah, a while.

  • We're at it.

  • How about an emoji for Chinese takeout?

  • So, you know, kind of raised, like I think we raised, like, $12,000 so that we could join the Unicode Consortium.

  • And so Imagination became a member and wrote I brought my little emoji proposal with a you know, a bunch of us all kind of dumpling lovers together.

  • And we got it passed in January 2016.

  • So this is you being with mysterious.

  • This was and then the other co chair of the emergency committee from Apple who likes who they roll anonymously, an apple, But, uh, there he is.

  • And, um so these were original set.

  • So along with dumpling, we did take out box and chopsticks and then fortune cookie.

  • And to be honest, I don't think Fortune Cookie would have liked gotten in on its own merits.

  • But on the sort of coat tails of dumpling and take out box and chopsticks, that kind of made it.

  • And so it took a couple, you know, while the other the ones now in on Apple like very photo.

  • Realistic like like dumpling.

  • I have to say, like, totally weird.

  • Like dead Pacman interpretation of, um, the fortune 50 on I like first, but there's, like no mouth and nothing is like, totally like some kind of dead three dimensional Pac man.

  • So, you know, it kind of got me into this, like, deep, deep, deep rabbit hole of like, Well, how does an emoji become an emoji And it is actually like a really weird process.

  • So, you know, First of all, let's say you have an idea, and this was really nice Anyone consuming an emoji rehearsal.

  • So you have your idea on, then you write a proposal and you submit it to the emoji subcommittee, which kind of talks about it, and sometimes they'll kick it back to you.

  • Um, you kind of go around and around the circle.

  • You know, they'll have feedback.

  • They don't like your design.

  • They don't think your statistics are good.

  • It's like, very these meetings were really funny because they're kind of like C span, but like around emoji and, um, the emoji subcommittee, then, uh, you know, at a certain point when it's good.

  • It'll kick it to the full committee.

  • Eso factors for inclusion.

  • Like what kind of things does the committee care about So things you know, it's popular Demand frequently requested, Um, which they, interestingly enough kind of use, like how many times the term appears on, like Google Search or YouTube?

  • Or for a while there was Instagram hashtagged as a way of, like, measuring demand.

  • And this is also just like the general disease of like engineers, which is they love to measure things, and and they and we can't be measured.

  • They sometimes can't value it, and which is kind of interesting because they always want to try to map like the world into, like, metrics.

  • Um, and no one can have these very extensive debates or whether or not, you know, demand to be measured through, like whether or not the term appears in Google or in YouTube.

  • But, uh, the kind of pluses for multiple uses it and meetings.

  • So, like Fox like, it can mean both Fox And, you know, like a kind of like Wiley or sly or an owl can mean like, um can mean, uh, wise or skunk and mean, smelly and then one of the necessary things.

  • It has to be able to like, kind of appear distinct at little Mogi sizes.

  • And then there is sometimes a value in terms of like filling a gap or completeness.

  • For a while there, the only we had hearts for red, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, maybe maybe white black.

  • We didn't have orange.

  • So then we, um you know, orange really kind of like orange.

  • The orange heart actually kind of slid in there basically because, like all the other hearts are there.

  • But like, bizarrely, orange heart was missing.

  • Factors against emoji inclusion are basically to specific too narrow, so like a very specific kind of dog as visit dogs in general.

  • Redundant setting a good example.

  • There was we had a, um, proposal, like one of the turkey cos they wanted a roast turkey, but we already had a live turkey, so we decided, like both of them basically can mean Thanksgiving.

  • So, like you don't need two forms of turkey cooked and not cooked that we do have two forms of chicken cooked and not cooked.

  • We have all, actually the whole life cycle of a chicken.

  • I don't know if you've ever noticed.

  • We have, like the egg the egg in like a little like, you know, Shel, I'm sorry.

  • Eggs and the chicken.

  • A shell checked by itself, full chicken than cooked chicken.

  • And then, if you really wanted completely also poo at the smiling through that theon and then this is key.

  • Actually, no logos, brands, deities of celebrity.

  • So this really confuses people.

  • They're like, Why can't we get the Coke can Or why can't we get, like, the Nike swish?

  • And basically, because you can't?

  • Because there's all kinds of I p issues.

  • New Davies either.

  • Sort of like no Buddha know Mohammed No, no, no.

  • Davies of knickknacks, you know?

  • And when you hear about like emojis like those are not really emoji.

  • There's essentially stickers, but that's really key.

  • Like these.

  • Once an emoji, always emoji, they kind of look for longevity.

  • Um and so once it kind of gets out of the subcommittee gets get kicked to the full committee, the full Unico technical committee.

  • Those were the people that were in the room, and then, uh, three times, four times a year they meet, and then each one of those.

  • They kind of vote to pass a set of emoji for like, um, provisional or basically candidate their candidates at that point.

  • And so, you know, four times a year, they kind of, like vote on ones that will become candidates.

  • And then once a year as a whole, batch, they vote and those get selected for the next year.

  • So it takes actually pretty hung time.

  • Um, s O once here, they lock the emoji, and once it's locked, it goes through all the different, like, you know, vendors like Google and Apple.

  • And they have the star basically adding it into just all the software, all designs, lots of things happened, very.

  • They keep on telling us it's very, very expensive to get these emerging pass that these were all complete, like companies with billions of dollars on their on their sort of books.

  • So I don't I'm not super sympathetic when they're like, you know, five more emoji is like, overwhelming for their folks.

  • So then, ah, those kind of then show up on your phone and laptops for apple.

  • Um, most of the updates happen in November, like late October November.

  • I think we just if you guys have updated your IOS devices because they're like apples.

  • Very persistent in like making you date your device.

  • You have seen the latest generation for the 2019 emoji.

  • So that is how it becomes an emoji.

  • It takes about 18 to 24 months.

  • So when I first proposed my dumpling emoji you, it was like like my first got my idea in September, like September 2015.

  • I propose it in January of 2016 and it hit the phone in November ish October ish of 2017.

  • So very, very long time.

  • It's a very, very, very, very, very, very long time.

  • So, you know, imagination like, you know, it was kind of a tongue in cheek thing, you know, just like the whole video thing.

  • But we kind of like, went on a little crusade to help kind of pass a bunch of inclusive and representative emoji.

  • So we like to think of ourselves as the voice of the people in the room that matters.

  • So, um, so one of the interesting things is like, Why does Unicode There's, like, you know, consortium Kobol thing control emojis a part of it is sort of a natural accident of just what Unico does to give you some history.

  • Um, yeah, they're sort of debates about when emoji started Essentially started in Japan sometime in the late 19 nineties.

  • You know, there's a soft and collection a doe coma collection, this one to serve the famed kind of like you.

  • It's all in color.

  • Um, and Waas introducing 1999 probably created, I think, in 97 super so famous that there they were collected.

  • This is very funny, as in the Museum of Modern Art collected the emoji as part of their permanent collection, which is of course, very strange if you think about it because they're just images.

  • So there's nothing to do, something to collect or told, but from a museum perspective, it actually a lot of collecting of digital property has a lot to do with, um, I p writes and be able to re parade and create them.

  • You know, all kinds of stuff.

  • So what happened then was in about 2007 so emotion were incredibly popular in Japan.

  • And at a certain point, um, you know all the phones and all across all the different carriers have their own little versions of emoji.

  • And then what happened was she males landed basically in Japan, and people would wouldn't, you know, send their emoji using she male on their phones.

  • But of course, Gmail couldn't capture um Emojis because these were just proprietary system.

  • So you would like, have this kind of weird situation.

  • We're like the symbols would get lost as you kind of moved between, you know, email and the phones.

  • And then, of course, in all the phones have their different versions.

  • And so, um, essentially Google and some others kind of went to Unicode and said, Can you please help us kind of coordinate this?

  • Because, essentially, what is unique codes mission.

  • The sometimes gets lost in all the late night television shows.

  • But Unicode has a very interesting commission is to enable everyone speaking every language on the earth to be able to use your language on their computers smartphones.

  • And they, um, you know, basically see it as a form of human right, because if you cannot communicate with your language in the digital era and essentially will become extinct.

  • So, um, it's kind of interesting because, you know, they started with, you know, back in way back when with, like, encoding like Russian and Arabic.

  • And, you know, the second generation was like Chinese or little bit Chinese, Japanese and Korean were a little harder and then kind of like worked on their way down.

  • You got to like higher Cliff IX.

  • Now they're basically at a lot of minority languages, Um, and sometimes like dead languages right now.

  • So they have three main