Re: Emoji: Public Review December 2008

From: Asmus Freytag (
Date: Sun Dec 21 2008 - 02:10:26 CST

On 12/20/2008 9:42 PM, Christopher Fynn wrote:
> Asmus Freytag wrote:
>> That emoji act functionally like plain text elements the way that
>> they fit into the architecture of numerous existing implementations
>> and that they are interchanged - about these facts there can be no
>> reasonable disagreement. Pretending otherwise does not speak from the
>> observable facts, but rather appears based on prior convictions and
>> value judgments of a sort, which, I believe, have no place in the
>> development the Unicode Standard.
> Asmus, If cell phone carriers in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan start using
> the Ashtamangala / Tashi Tarjey / Eight Auspicious Symbols on their
> cell phone networks - then do these also become good candidates for
> encoding?
> <>
> If symbols like those in the Emoji set are going to be allowed, how
> about other common symbols/icons found in almost every modern GUI
> computing environment? (diskette, printer, clipboard, file-folder,
> paper-clip, etc.)
Except that the technical elites have not provided the means to handle
these as characters. There's costs and benefits to handling common
symbols as characters. The benefit is clearly in more universal
interchangeability. The cost is that character encoding is more limited
and limiting than allowing direct graphical representations. The process
takes longer and it's not possible to capture all variations and all
usages immediately, if ever.

The funny thing is that e-mail and bulletin board systems have taken a
middle ground and provided compatible glyphic renditions for common
character *sequences* such as :) and :(.

As long as that situation stands I can support Unicode's reluctance to
encode symbols that are not actually interchanged as codes.

I'm also fully cognizant of the risk of encoding things that are subject
to sudden swings of fashion - already several dozen characters in
Unicode have a definite 1970's (or 80s) look to them - so, if any
extension is made, it would be best not to start with a rapidly evolving
subject matter such as GUIs, but with the 100 most common symbols found
in and along printed texts. (This set, while talked about conceptually a
lot, has never been nailed down in a proposal - however, I note that
some dozen or so of the emoji symbols are likely members, or variants of
likely members of this set).

If Unicode ever got around encoding such a set, it would allow users to
decide for themselves whether they prefer encoding such symbols
semantically or continue to use font-based solutions or graphics.
Currently, such ad-hoc use of common symbols has no formal clout, and
ordinary users are prevented from using semantic coding, except for the
very odd-ball, and imbalanced collection of "general" symbols in Unicode.

> - Chris

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Jan 02 2009 - 15:33:07 CST