Thing 5: Diversity

I first read the two recommended articles:

How Apple’s new multicultural emojis are more racist than before

Yeah, Facebook Messender’s New Diverse Emoji Actually Matter

I’d only been vaguely aware of the move for more diverse emojis and these two articles were thought provoking. I tend to think of emoticons as text based as in “:-)” for smile or “;-)” for wink – these are about the only two I routinely use. My first thought is that life was simpler when you were restricted to a few characters to express an idea rather than a full graphical image? Diversity is clearly important and it should be a good thing to see companies trying to address bias , conscious and unconscious, within digital tools. Though the articles suggest these are a still long way from accurate representation and as Paige Tutt points out in the Washington post article that this may have brought race into contexts where it was not present before “Now in simple text messages and tweets, I have to identify myself racially”. It appears that in trying to address diversity these example merely made visible some of the unconscious assumptions of the designers? But I don’t agree that concern with emojis and diversity are frivolous  – people are subtly influenced by the tools at their disposal  and the tacit implications embedded within them should be explored. Perhaps by starting these conversations Apple and Facebook will encourage the digital industry to move toward more nuanced and considered emojis to represent the diversity of their users. Though you get the impression they would do well to actually include a diverse range of people in the development of these to actually represent a broader range of people.

Next I went to look at Bitmojis, the avatars of conversation.

I visited the Bitmoji website and experiment with the avatar creation. It was kind of fun to create a moji that looked like me (well sort of!) I liked being able to add in my facial lines! But obviously you have you make a few compromises along the way. But it really came into its own why you see the pictures I can add into my emails! Actually I’m really very dull and tend to just write text in emails, but I might start using these now!

This is probably the way forward, if you can create your own images to represent yourself, rather than have to rely on large corporations to accurately represent real people.