✍️ Operating ✍️ at ✍️ the ✍️ speed ✍️ of ✍️ digital ✍️ communication ✍️
Rules? Where were going we don't need rules
How do you use emoji?
You are amazing 🎉
You are amazing 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉
As the intonation in your voice?
🎉 you 🎉 are 🎉 amazing 🎉
You are amazing 🏆🎆✨🎉💪🤩💅
You are ✨ amazing ✨🎆🍆💦🦪🥵🏆
There’s no right way or wrong way to use emoji and anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something 💸 and definitely a card carrying member of the Industrial Emoji Complex . Don’t get me wrong: communicating in digital spaces has its own rules and structures … they just tend to to be a lot more f l u i d and ł₦₣ØⱤ₥₳Ⱡ than traditional written communication has been enforced in the past (I’m looking at you, AP Style Guide) 🧑🏫
For some, this can be stressful (No one wants to be misunderstood) for others this is freedom (language can feel like a low-bandwidth technology to communicate our infinitely prismatic emotions). While many written languages are derivative of a verbal equivalent (You speak French … you write French), emoji are … different. They are a digital native, born from texting. They aren't a new language as much as they operate along side existing ones … in those long silences between words … providing clarity in the absence of body language. Emoji say what isn’t always being said.
😜 I'm 😘 sorry 🤣 not 🥳 sorry 🥰
✍️ Writing ✍️ is ✍️ a ✍️ new ✍️ technology ✍️
It’s easy to assume that we’ve always been writing but the reality is we’ve been talking a lot longer. Linguist John McWhorter contextualizes this rather neatly in this NPR segment, “If humanity had existed for 24 hours, then writing only came along at about 11:07 p.m.” 🤯
Why did we even start writing in the first place? Well, primarily to track how many chickens we had or payments to be made. The fact that writing has gone from counting livestock to souNDinG LikE SpOnGeBoB SqUaRePaNtS is a linguistic miracle ✨
Today, how many words are in the English language? Oxford English Dictionary says it’s 171,146. Meanwhile, Urban Dictionary has 1.6 million entries 💀. Out of curiosity I looked up how many words exist in German and the estimation goes as high as 5.3 million which explains a lot. (Lol, plz take don’t take these numbers too seriously). Despite all these words … sometimes I can’t seem to find the right one to express how I feel. There’s something about the specificity of a word that makes language feel like a prison. Or as Carl Jung wrote, “Loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate things that seem important.”
That’s where emoji step in.
Keyboard? ⌨️ More 🐌 like 😴 key-bored 💤 (sorry)
The problem with digital keyboards — well, one of the problems — is that they tend to index very hard on reproducing formal conventions of the written word. Auto-correct, spelling, word suggestion are useful features that fundamentally assume the way we message our friends or leave comments on tiktok is the same way we write a book report.
Those who dare to be a bit more experimental can (gasp) hit the emoji button and insert a or a . Sadly, browsing emoji for “the right” expression requires more effort than you usually have time for. The way emoji pallets work hasn’t fundamentally changed since 2008. According to Emojipedia, iOS only had 471 emoji . Today, it is a seemingly bottomless scrollable list of 3,664 emoji (and we continue to add more every year 😵💫).
Recent developments to improve “emoji suggestion”, search, speech to text, etc. are getting better but tend to index heavily on word replacement and assume one emoji is enough 🎷🐛
That’s why this week we rolled out a new feature with Android's Gboard team that takes a step to challenge the status quo a bit. Maybe keyboards don't have to white knuckle the past so much and loosen up, begin to operate at the speed of language online with the thanks of emojification.
How it works
Type a message in your favorite chat app of choice using gboard.
Add an emoji at the end and ✨voila✨ a magic wand will appear
Tap the magic wand!
Tap it again
And again to cycle through different ways to inject emoji into your sentence
Press send to add the right 🔥 emoji 🎩 magic 🌈 to share with your friends.
The small print: This feature is now available in the Gboard Beta app in English for now, and is coming to all Gboard English typers over the next weeks.
The creativity of the human spirit is unstoppable. Give people new tools to be more expressive and I promise yOu wE'll dO More tHAn CoUnt cHIcKens 🐤