This month, as hordes of Republicans and Democrats thunder across the United States to jaw and shout beneath their respective party banners, a far more staid convention is taking shape in San Francisco. A convention of eggplant glyphs, of swirling turds — an emoji convention.
The event — aptly named Emojicon — will be organized and led by Jeanne Brooks, Jennifer 8. Lee, and Yiying Lu, the founders of Emojination and advocates behind a proposed dumpling emoji. It will take place in San Francisco at the College of the Arts campus, November 4–6.
Since becoming accidentally drawn into the weird world of emojis, Brooks, Lee, and Lu have become advocates for a more inclusive emoji character set and character submission process. Last December, after successfully proposing and illustrating the dumpling emoji, Lee and Lu created a grassroots campaign called Emojination to help others craft emoji proposals and fast-track them through the Unicode Consortium, which oversees their approval and implementation.
"One the bigger problems is that the Unicode emoji approval process is mostly male, mostly white, mostly engineers," Lee told BuzzFeed News back in December. "People who decide emoji need to be more diverse since this group is not representative and, to their credit, they know it — but their biases still pop up.”
Hence Emojicon's goal of introducing a broader spectrum of people to the little-known world of Unicode.
"The purpose of the event is to open up the conversation and create a home to celebrate emoji," Emojicon lead producer Jeanne Brooks told BuzzFeed News. "We'll be exploring a range of discussions from technical aspects of emoji production and the emoji approval process, to cultural implications and impact."
While the event will feature standard conference fare — a film festival, an art gallery, and panels — its primary goal will be to raise awareness about the consortium and the emoji submission process. The consortium is expecting Unicode members like President Mark Davis to attend as well as members of Unicode's emoji subcommittee (the conference will be held right after the consortium's big November meeting).
Emojicon's sponsors so far include Samsung's Mapzen division, Panda Express (a big supporter of the dumpling emoji), and GE. Among the conference's festivities will be a hackathon intended to explore uncharted areas of emoji technology. Said Brooks, "It's a good place for companies with cool technologies and various APIs to get people to leverage them to do fun things with emoji."
Registration starts now and submissions for the conference are open until August 31, 2016.