“In 1999, the Japanese wireless communications company NTT Docomo released 176 pictures for people to quickly, efficiently, and emotively communicate on the tiny screens of their phones,” Mark Wilson writes for Fast Company. “Twenty years later, and we now have over 3,000 emoji and counting. On the one hand, emoji are getting more inclusive. They finally feature same sex parents, female scientists, and people in every skin tone other than Simpsons yellow. On the other, as these icons become more inclusive, each becomes less universal.”
“Jennifer Daniel, designer at Google, thinks about this deep irony at the heart of visual language all the time. She traces it back to the age-old problem with the male bathroom symbol,” Wilson writes. “‘That person could be man, woman, anyone,’ she says. ‘But they had to add a little detail, that dress, and suddenly that person symbol doesn’t mean person anymore; it means man. And that culture means a man-centered culture.'”
“While Daniel can’t fix our bathroom signage, as the director of Android emojis, she can fix another problem: The lack of gender-neutral symbols in texting. She can give us the zombies, merpeople, children, weightlifters that are neither male nor female,” Wilson writes. “‘We’re not calling this the non-binary character, the third gender, or an asexual emoji – and not gender neutral. Gender neutral is what you call pants,’ says Daniel. ‘But you can create something that feels more inclusive.'”
Read more in the full article here.