Unicode, I Am A Witness

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Strange how some of the little things you do can ripple, and have much wider impacts. (Though my contributions were minuscule to the overall effort). My company was collaborating on an idea that encouraged kids to share their experiences with bullying through art and stories -- and they wanted to emoji to support an effort to flip it around by targeting those that witnessed bullying to be empowered. I had a small part in their success.

Someone internally (Megan Dale) needed connections to try to get to buy-in for the eye emoji (Unicode character adoption by Apple, Goog and Microsoft) to get it as part of their anti-bullying (I Am A Witness) campaign: 👁‍🗨, that my company was working on with Ad Council, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and a host of media companies. I connected her up to our representative (Ken Lunde), who got her a spot in a Unicode lunch meeting to make our case: and acceptance and adoption was stunningly fast (only a few months).

Since the launch, this had over 100M impressions on the Internet campaign, and dozens of TV, Radio stations picked it up. So it was a good, fluffy effort to help victims of bullying, and encourage kids to speak up and say, "Eye see what you did there, and it's not OK".


Do I think this is a good thing? Kinda, but not really.

In the grand scheme of things, this was fluffy bullshit. Creating a character for a fad campaign is something Unicode should have not done: this is not universal, is not forever, and is not going to become part of the language, even visual language -- so is a waste of bits. Still, it's the exact kind of fluffy/stupid thing that a political organization like Unicode could get behind. Thus it doesn't hurt much, it might help a little in the short term, and it makes a few people feel good/sanctimonious about making a difference. My job is to help them and the company get what they want, no matter what my personal beliefs on this are. So I'm both happy that I helped them do it. And roll my eyes that this is what people wanted to prioritize, over something more on target: like defining a real language based set of hieroglyphs that was more complete, or ways to try to enforce consistency (and remove political correctness), so that companies can't bend the language with their interpretation of inanimate objects.

If you want to see how stupid we are becoming, you need look no further than Emoji. Not just that comic hieroglyphics are becoming the new way to communicate because reading is hard. It's that the PC-thought police intrude on language in a way that Orwell warned about in 1984: truthspeak, double-speak and so on, are all real. Some examples include: Condom Emoji, Facebook war on Emoji, Handgun Emoji, and so on. Each of these tweaks is relatively harmless... but additively they change the lexicon, pervert the language, and make the meanings of things we say today, mean something completely different in the future. That's not a good thing.



These are a few articles (stories) that I've written, just to share my experiences as an Adobe employee for over a decade. I like the company, and all companies have good and bad quirks. But these are just my observations on what I found amusing or memorable about my experiences there. Definitely not to slam the company, or many good people who have worked there -- just because I sort of journal on life. more...


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