In an analysis of over 650 million tweets sent throughout 2020, I take a deep dive into our emoji usage trends during a year dominated by a global pandemic. But despite our lives being somewhat curtailed this year, our emojis lives appeared to flourish, with over 20% of all tweets sent in the latter months of 2020 features at least one emoji.
In August 2018 Keith Houston, author of the book 'Shady Characters' and the punctuation-based blog of the same name, published his first article on emoji history. Earlier this month the thirtieth entry in what was originally intended to be a five post series was published. Described as "a kind of introduction to, or perhaps a summary of" the series thus far, it's an excellent place to start if you've yet to read any of Keith's work on emojis, or if you fancy a refresher.
Recently(ish) Unicode's Emoji Subcommittee elected a new chair, with Jennifer Daniel of Google taking over the role from Unicode co-founder Mark Davis. Earlier this month Emojipedia's Chief Emoji Officer Jeremy was able to have a chat with Jennifer on the Emoji Wrap podcast, where these two emoji titans discussed the future of the emoji keyboard, the Unicode emoji proposal process, and if less elaborate emoji designs would be better.
Speaking of our new Emoji Subcommittee chair, Wired UK recently published a piece investigating the history behind the growth of greater gender-inclusive emoji design. A project formally proposed by Jennifer Daniel and her team at Google before her ascension to Subcommittee chair, this article covers some of the early struggles in emoji gender representation and discusses the difficulties that designers faced when seeking to represent gender neutrality on the emoji keyboard.
As Jonathan Mann so eloquently puts it, everybody uses emoji, and that includes royalty. In a Q&A video on the official Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Instagram page she shares with his husband, Kate Middleton quickly displayed the most recently used emojis on her iPhone's emoji keyboard when thanking fans for including “wonderful emojis” alongside their questions.
Once an overtly positive gesture across the western world, the humble thumbs up has seemingly undergone quite the transformation as a symbol in our digital communications. Writing in Harper's Bazaar, Evan Ross Katz wrestles with the realization that a thumbs up emoji may be a more overtly callous response to a text message than even the 🖕 Middle Finger.
Another one from myself here! In 2020's Emoji 13.0 a new festive non-gender-specific person emoji was introduced to the emoji keyboard: Mx. Claus. Despite not being the first gender neutral person emoji, Mx. Claus is noteworthy for a number of reasons, including the honorific in their name and the fact that they are technically a gender neutral variant on a character from folklore.
'The Emoji Story' (previously titled 'Picture Character') is a documentary co-produced by Emoji Subcommittee Vice Chair Jennifer 8. Lee and features interviews with Jeremy of these here parts. Rumor has it that he has a few emoji-based costume changes. Tickets to view the stream can be purchased via the link below.