Emoji for Unicode: Open Source Data for the Encoding Proposal

Emoji (絵文字), or “picture characters”, the graphical versions of 🙂 and its friends, are widely used and especially popular among Japanese cell phone users. Just last month, they became available in Gmail ― see the team’s announcement: A picture is worth a thousand words.

These symbols are encoded as custom (carrier-specific) symbol characters and sent as part of text messages, emails, and web pages. In theory, they are confined to each cell phone carrier’s network unless there is an agreement and a converter in place between two carriers. In practice, however, people expect emoji just to work – what they put into a message will get to all the recipients; what they see on a web page will be seen by others; if they search for a character they’ll find it. For that to really work well, these symbol characters need to be part of the Unicode Standard (the universal character set used in modern computing).

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