♣️ 🅾️ 😳
🍒 👎 🐀
CLOCK FACE FIVE-THIRTY
CLUB SUIT O BUTTON FLUSHED FACE
CHERRIES THUMBS DOWN RAT
I made an absurd little thing that generates haikus from the official unicode emoji descriptions.
I came across the idea after seeing a bunch of bots on twitter recently – particularly @WizardGenerator and a few bots from @tinysubversions. After reading something that said that the best way to get started was to take a concept, boil it down to something as minimally viable as possible, and ship it, I decided to have a go.
I thought it was funny to juxtapose something ancient, and old, and introspective, and personal, and effort-requiring against something modern, and ephemeral, and mass consumed.
Real haikus make you think; this is like the bastard limerick of haikus.
Also, I've always been interested in emoji (they feature on the homepage of my website). It's utterly bizarre that something so modern has been somewhat standardised into language through the Unicode spec.
Emojis and meaning
Emoji illustrations have implicit meaning by virtue of being pictures, but a lot of the meaning now comes as a result of the fact that Apple mainstreamed emoji first. The dancing lady is classy and exuberant, but the Unicode spec just says “DANCER” (with the note also used for “let’s party”). It makes no mention of pose, gender, the red dress, or a particular dance style. Just “DANCER”. I've seen PERSON WITH FOLDED HANDS used as high-five. The Japanese INFORMATION DESK PERSON emoji is often used to mean sassy. People interpret the FACE WITH TEARS OF JOY emoji as just “crying” (with hilarious/disastrous results).
So for something that's so ubiquitous, it's amazing that nobody knows what these symbols formally mean. Maybe the problem here is that they were mobile-first for so long - you can't include a formal description when the keyboard has to fit on a 4” screen. Maybe the entries in the unicode specification was under-specified. Maybe in seeking to make emoji memorable and fun, Apple engineers were a little too liberal in their interpretation of the spec.
Either way, we're in a situation where emoji have a richness and layers in meaning. Not to the same quality of words, but hey, at least they're mainstream and accessible.
HEY THE SPEC IS IN ALL CAPS FOR SOME REASON
It's also extremely entertaining to me that the UNICODE DESCRIPTIONS are always UPPERCASE. it's like the spec is yelling at us: “HEY, YOU! that's a DOG FACE.” “DEAR READER! This is a MAN IN BUSINESS SUIT LEVITATING.”
So juxtaposing something ancient, and nuanced, and subtle, against something modern, and really really blunt and TIRELESSLY YELLING really appealed to me.
And so, here we have emoji haikus.