(New York) — The silly little emojis that fill digital communication, emojis are a fun way to get your message out to a large audience. But for those who want to be enshrined in the cultural annals of palms, red hearts and tears of joy by creating their next iconic emoji, this is a serious problem.
These digital pictograms must be approved by a group called Unicode. Unicode standardizes written communication on the Internet by maintaining a universal character set. There are limited places available for new emojis, and each year a large number of emoji enthusiasts submit their proposals to the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee for review.
For one person wishing to create an emoji, the process was filled with sad faces and wide-eyed eyes. Caroline Morganti is a 28-year-old software engineer in New York City who submitted her first emoji proposal to the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee in April.
“I feel like there aren’t many opportunities to make a clear cultural contribution in a way that has a very clear process,” Morganty told ABC News’ Start Here podcast. “Especially the ones that are very widely used.”
The emoji proposed by Morganty was a smiley face representing nostalgia and imagination. She came up with the idea while scrolling through her social media and realized she couldn’t find an emoji that matched her feelings.
“Nostalgia is a big part of internet culture. Why are there no emojis?” Morganty said.
Morganti spent over 30 hours writing an 18-page appeal to the Emoji Subcommittee. Unicode requires submitters to address a set of detailed criteria for proposals, such as relevance and uniqueness of ideas.
Emojis weren’t always determined this way. Many cell phone companies had their own, often arbitrary sets of emoji. In 2010, emoji were included in Unicode for universalization. However, this setting often puts Unicode in the odd position of being the emoji gatekeeper of the world.
These days, Unicode keeps its gates closed. The Emoji Subcommittee considered her Morganti proposal until the fall and notified her of the rejection in early November.
“Of course, I am disappointed.
Morganti is not alone. According to the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee, only 10 of the approximately 400 emoji proposals submitted in this cycle were accepted. This is significantly fewer than the hundreds of proposals accepted each year over the past few years. What was once a deluge of new emojis is now slowly flowing.
Jennifer Daniel, Chair of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee, attributes this decline to the stringent standards required to maintain the Unicode character set and the rapidly changing landscape of the Internet.
“The internet today is very different than it was 30 years ago. It may have been SMS text messaging then, but today we have rich media, short-form video and memes. Emojis are the only ones that are intended to remain stationary.”
Daniel and her colleagues at the Emoji Subcommittee have the difficult task of regulating the infinite expressiveness of the Internet.
With thousands of existing emojis and limited spots available, Daniel said the group must be very cautious about new additions. increase. It’s about balancing traditional communication with today’s ever-changing internet norms.
“Language is as artistic as music, but music is made up of notes, and if you want to digitize those notes in any way, you have to standardize them,” says Daniel. “The great thing about emojis is that they don’t require editing software…but there are a lot of things people can do in addition to Unicode allowing digital expression.”
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