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<   No. 3777   2017-12-07   >

Comic #3777

1 Iki Piki: Well quick! Activate the cyberspace interface!
2 Spanners: I'm trying, but something is slowing the system down!
3 {beat}
4 {cyberspace interface kicks in}
4 Iki Piki: Finally!
4 Serron: Hey! I was in the middle of updating my phone to get all the new emojis!

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It's interesting that whenever there's a new update for phones or whatever that includes new emojis, the tech blogs I follow go nuts with people commenting on how useless and stupid emojis are and why bother including more of them in the operating systems of devices?

Emojis are defined by the Unicode Consortium, as part of the Unicode standard, which is an effort to encode all of the characters of all of the world's various writing systems such that they can be represented by computers. This is a worthwhile goal. Imagine if you spoke a language that your computer couldn't display, and in which you couldn't write emails or read web pages. Right, that would be terrible, so Unicode wants to help.

As well as just language characters, it encodes other symbols such as punctuation, numerals, mathematical symbols, currency symbols, musical notation, and so on. Basically, anything you need to communicate information in a symbolic form.

Many people like to communicate information in symbolic form using pictures or icons. If you've ever typed a smiley face like this :-) then you've used the power of an icon to communicate some information.

When the Unicode Consortium decides to add code points for Armenian ligatures or electrical engineering symbols or Egyptian hieroglyphics, nobody complains. In fact, I reckon many of the same people who complain about emojis would be delighted if the Unicode Consortium added code points for Tengwar and Klingon[1].

So why the hate for emojis? They're fun, and lots of people use them. Seems like a good enough reason to have them to me. For what it's worth, I also think Tengwar and Klingon should be encoded too, for pretty much the same reasons: they're fun, and well, if not lots, I think enough people use them to make it worthwhile. It's not like Unicode is short of space to encode stuff.

[1] A thing which they have so far been highly resistant to doing. A formal proposal to encode Tengwar in Unicode has existed since 1997, but has not been adopted. A similar proposal to encode the Klingon script was also proposed in 1997 (by the same proposer), but this was formally rejected by the Unicode Consortium in 2001.

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