What are some interesting facts about emojis

Anita Rösch

Possibilities and limits of expressing emotions with emojis

Some varieties of digital communication are almost as immediate as analog conversation, but in writing. However, there are ways to add non-verbal elements beyond what has been written, in the form of emoticons and emojis. But are they also suitable for expressing individual sensitivities, or is their function elsewhere? The teaching idea gives rise to reflection on one's own communication habits.

Social interaction is shifting more and more from face-to-face communication to media-mediated communication. In oral, face-to-face dialogue, we have non-verbal elements such as facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice at our disposal to express ourselves, to articulate emotions, to express our attitudes and to express our personality. In written communication, based on 26 letters in German, these possibilities are missing. Emoticons and emojis try to fill in the void.
The world of emoticons and emojis
The computer scientist Scott Fahlman is considered to be the inventor of the first digital emoticon. In 1982, as part of scientific communication, he suggested the :-) as a symbol for not very serious comments in an online forum at Carnegie Mellon University.1 The symbol quickly spread outside the university, and new combinations of symbols such as :-( and ;-) invented. The term emoticon is made up of emotion and icon. Emoticons are intended to replace facial expressions and gestures in digital communication. 2
In contrast to emoticons, emojis expand the alphabet of emotions considerably. Emojis are ideograms, i.e. conceptual symbols or pictorial symbols that stand for entire words or concepts. In contrast to emoticons, emojis are not limited to emotions, but also include, for example, symbols for plants, animals, food, vehicles, hobbies or weather conditions. Emojis were created at the instigation of the largest Japanese mobile communications provider, NTT DoCoMo, and their inventor is considered to be the Japanese Shigetaka Kurita.3 Due to their small size as characters, emojis are not subject to copyright law, so that other mobile communications providers quickly adopted emojis in their offerings. All available emojis have been documented in the English-language online reference work Emojipedia since 2013.
Use and distribution
With his Emojitracker4, IT artist Matthew Rosenberg has been measuring the use of emojis on Twitter in real time since 2013. The tool presents all currently available emojis. Emojis that have just been used light up green. Most commonly used worldwide by Twitter users. By clicking on the symbols you can get information about the official name of the emojis. The tool provides interesting statistics and an exciting look behind the scenes of the social network Twitter and shows the massive use of emojis. At the time of this writing, it has been used more than 1.6 billion times since the program was installed in 2013. This emoji was voted Word of the Year in 2015 by Oxford University Press. As a justification for the decision to choose a symbol instead of a word, the jury cited the extremely increased use of emojis in 2015. On the homepage of Oxford University Press it says: “Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens - instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers. [...] Now that we're all used to emojis being a shorthand method of communicating our thoughts, emotions, and responses. "5
How did this massive use of emojis come about within a few years? The use of emojis is based on Unicode, the universal computer language that all device manufacturers agreed on in 1991. ...