Emojicon Takeaways

Since it’s World Emoji Day and we here at Alphabettes 💚 emoji, I want to share a few things I learned at Emojicon, a day long celebration of all things emoji, in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, July 14. Emojicon is organized by the fine folks at Emojination, a grassroots effort to help democratize the arcane and cryptic emoji approval process. You can also thank them for the dumpling, the hijab, and the broccoli, among other emoji success stories.

Emojicon logo with o swapped in for tongue sticking out emoji and 2nd o swapped out for a heart with stars emoji

1. The subject of emoji cuts across a range of disciplines: from linguists and entrepreneurs to designers and lawyers, emoji is interesting to so many people. This diverse nature of attendees and speakers was a refreshing break from my normal little geek bubbles.

2. Balloons make everything better. It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you’re looking at or standing on a stage lined with a rainbow arc of balloons. The entire atmosphere of the conference was very welcoming, inclusive, and affordably priced. Although my kids didn’t come, I did see several youngsters in attendance, and a few participated in the afternoon discussions. The children are our future!

3. Where are all the type nerds? To be fair, there were a few of us there but the visual representation of language in the form of glyphs and fonts should be of interest to more than a handful of type people, no? Some type designers get a bit cranky when you start talking about emoji, especially my favorite awkward subject, FONT-SPECIFIC EMOJI. But given the growing support for color fonts, the inevitability of emoji typesetting scenarios (on the web and in print!), and the public’s insatiable desire for emoji keyboards and UIs, emoji—whether you like it or not—are worth our attention.

4. Emoji, like typefaces, are a reflection and influencer of culture. The off-Broadway musical, Emojiland, premieres today (I met one of the producers at the conference). And consider two of the emoji applications that were being promoted during the conference: the mate emoji and the birth control emoji. Mate, a traditional drink from South America and birth control, as a symbol of women’s control over their bodies, both represent something culturally significant beyond tea or pills.

5. Emoji are not just about promoting culture and empowerment. It’s also about 💰. Consider this: to be a full voting member of Unicode, you just need a cool $18,000 lying around, which is why most of the full members are multi-national corporations. Businesses and industries have also figured out that emoji can be a useful branding asset and have lobbied to get their favorite emoji accepted, such as Maine’s successful application for the lobster emoji or Taco Bell’s controversial campaign for the taco emoji.

6. Don’t be a loser like me and miss the emoji spelling bee or the dance party.

This was the second Emojicon (the first was held in San Francisco in 2016) and I hope it continues on a regular basis. Many thanks to Jeanne Brooks and Jennifer 8. Lee for letting me be a part of it. Type people should make a place for themselves at the [emoji] table. If only there was a table emoji. 🤔

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