Unsung Science

Where Emoji Come From

Jan. 28, 2022

Each year, the powers that be endow our phones with about 70 new emoji. For 2022, you’ll be getting a mirror ball, a crutch, an X-ray, coral, a ring buoy, and a bird’s nest—with or without eggs in it.

But who ARE the powers that be? Why do they add the emoji they add? Why do we have a blowfish but not a catfish? Why do we have police car, police officer, and judge, but not handcuffs, jail, or prison?

In this hilarious episode, you’ll meet the shadowy figures who choose which symbols get added to the permanent set each year. You’ll hear about the Apple bagel disaster, the Android cheeseburger kerfluffle, and the floating beer-foam episode. And you’ll meet the 15-year-old whose emoji campaign changed the world—and probably got her into Stanford.

Guests: Jennifer Daniel, director of emoji at Google; head of emoji for the Unicode Consortium

Mark Davis, cofounder and president, Unicode Consortium

Rayouf Alhumedi, creator of the hijab emoji

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