Emoji are serious business, and one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the past decade.Ten years ago, few people in North America knew about emoji, let alone text them to their mom.I got the Emojicon assignment by surprise, just two days earlier.The Observer tasked me with writing the kind of rollicking gonzo essay taught in freshman non-fiction seminars (or at least that’s how I interpreted it, while rolling around on a bed of dog-eared David Foster Wallace paperbacks).They ask who’s heard of Emojination, the group they founded, and is throwing the event. Emojination began two years ago when Lee, a former New York Times reporter and cofounder of a literary studio called Plympton, wondered why there wasn’t a dumpling emoji. The goal: to ensure that text and symbols appear the same across devices.
I meet her backstage, hoping to make the most #woke impression possible.
All of the presentations had been converted to Google Slides at the last minute, which—hilariously and tragically—meant that emoji often showed up on-screen as strange silhouettes or empty boxes.
The only lunch option is a single sushi truck, which feels highly questionable in the scorching July heat.
Today, over 5 billion are sent on Facebook Messenger each day, and Facebook’s platform constitutes just a small percentage of all time spent on emoji-enabled platforms.
As a neophyte of hardcore emoji culture, Emojicon conjured all sorts of questions. And who gives up a sunny July Saturday to celebrate them?