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更新时间:2016-6-23 18:53:55 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Hands Off My Smiley Face: Emoji Become Corporate Tools

At last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple’s annual showcase of new tech, the company announced a special texting feature coming soon to iPhones near you.

上周,在苹果(Apple)的年度新技术展示会——全球开发者大会(Worldwide Developers Conference)上,该公司宣布,一项特殊的输入功能将很快出现在你身边的iPhone上。

“You know, sometimes you’ve typed a whole message and you realize at the end that you’re entirely lacking in emojification,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president for software engineering. “So we provided the solution: When you tap on the emoji button, we’ll highlight all the emojifiable words there, and you can just tap, tap, tap, tap and emojify.”

“你知道,有时你打了一大段文字,最后才发现你完全没用表情符号,”苹果的软件工程高级副总裁克雷格·费代里吉(Craig Federighi)说,“所以,我们提供了一个解决方案:当你点击表情符号按钮时,我们会突出显示所有可以换成表情符号的文字,然后你就点,点,点,它们就变成表情符号了。”

“Children of tomorrow will have no understanding of the English language,” Federighi said jokingly.


But Apple’s new emoji feature seems more likely to impede a different kind of skill: creating surprising, figurative and subversive forms of individual expression out of the digital ephemera that populate our devices. In a rush to harness the power of the web’s most evocative cultural units — emoji and their hyperactive cousins, GIFs — tech companies, corporate brands and entrepreneurial social media stars could risk inadvertently flattening the creative world that’s sprung up around them.


“There is a constant push and pull between people finding new ways to express themselves online, and companies trying to make money off that expression,” said Luke Stark, who studies digital communication and psychology.

“人们不断寻找在网上表达自己的新方法,公司努力从中赚钱,这样的拉锯一直在持续,”研究数字传播和心理学的卢克·斯塔克(Luke Stark)说。

Emoji have emerged as cultural forces in and of themselves. The crisp, candy-colored glyphs form a modern emotional palette. And it’s growing: On Tuesday, the Unicode Consortium, the body that standardizes emoji, will release 72 new ones that will soon make their way to our fingertips, including a black heart, a wilted flower and a pregnant woman.

表情符号本身已经成为一种文化力量。这些糖果色的新鲜符号形成了现代情绪调色板。而且它还在发展:周二,表情符号标准化机构Unicode Consortium将发布72个新符号,它们将很快出现在我们的指尖,包括一颗黑心、一朵枯萎的花朵以及一个怀孕的女人。

If emoji encourage visual puns and whimsical juxtapositions, GIFs inspire a sharp curatorial sensibility. The art lies in detecting the richest slices of popular media — film, TV or amateur video — and punctuating their greatness by setting them on infinite repeat. The best “reaction” GIFs — those chosen to inject human expression in online conversation — feel both emotionally familiar and visually surprising.


But when emojis and GIFs are filtered through the interests of tech companies, they often become slickly automated. In addition to Apple’s “emojification” feature, there is Twitter’s new GIF keyboard (a partnership with the GIF company Giphy, which has been pumped with $78.95 million worth of funding since 2013). It directs Twitter users to choose from a suite of emotional reactions, including “Agree,” “Applause,” “Aww” and “Eww,” which conjures a set of appropriate GIFs, front-loaded with those featuring the internet’s most GIFable celebrities, such as Beyoncé and Oprah.


Buying into these features means giving tech companies the power to shape our creative expressions in ways that further enrich the companies themselves. A limited emotional range helps collect data on users’ states of mind. Twitter advertisers can now target users based on the emoji they tweet.


The commodification of digital culture has engendered more explicit corporate branding, too. On Snapchat, where users embellish their selfies with emoji, crayon scribbles, and elaborate “lenses” that cover their faces with virtual masks, marketers such as McDonalds are seizing the opportunity to write their messages across people’s faces.


Even celebrities have tried to encode themselves. In December, Kim Kardashian West released her latest pioneering app, Kimoji, which serves up an alternative emoji set (and a suite of GIFs) designed around her own image. It inspired a boomlet of celebrity emoji offerings, including Stephen Curry’s StephMoji app, Amber Rose’s MuvaMoji, Justin Bieber’s Justmoji and the actor Ansel Elgort’s Anselfie. Even Drake’s dad has emoji now.

甚至连名人们也努力让自己数码化。去年12月,金·卡戴珊·韦斯特(Kim Kardashian West)发布了自己最新的、开创性的应用程序Kimoji——根据她的形象设计的一套表情符号(以及一套GIF)。这引发了一阵名人表情符号热潮,包括斯蒂芬·库里(Stephen Curry)的StephMoji应用程序,安伯·罗丝(Amber Rose)的MuvaMoji,贾斯汀·比伯(Justin Bieber)的Justmoji,以及演员安塞尔·埃尔格特(Ansel Elgort)的Anselfie。甚至连德雷克(Drake)的爸爸现在都有了表情符号。

With Kimoji, and its micro images of breasts and butts, Kardashian West isn’t just sexy: She represents sex itself. But as more stars jump on the bandwagon, these apps begin to represent little more than a branding opportunity: Ansel Elgort sticking out his tongue; Ansel Elgort pouting; Ansel Elgort wearing headphones.


Meanwhile, as traditional emoji expand beyond their Japanese roots, tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google (all are voting members of Unicode) have become responsible for making cultural, and sometimes political, choices in determining which new emoji will make the cut.


Some additions to the emoji repertoire are informed by experts: Unicode has consulted the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for bird emoji advice. Others are culled from “popular requests from online communities” and proposals submitted by the public.

新增加的表情符号参考了专家们的建议:Unicode向康奈尔鸟类学实验室(Cornell Lab of Ornithology)咨询鸟类表情符号建议。其他一些符号采集自“虚拟社区的普遍请求”以及公众提交的方案。

Companies have also made bids to influence the result, although Unicode says it rejects emojis “strongly associated with a particular brand.” Last year, the ad agency Havas London started a campaign on behalf of Durex, calling for a condom emoji. Cerveza Indio wants a dark beer emoji. Ballantine’s has championed a glass of whiskey. The rice company La Fallera suggested a paella emoji. (The whiskey and paella made the cut; both are coming on Tuesday.)

很多公司也争取影响最后的结果,不过Unicode称,它拒绝推出“与特定品牌具有密切联系的”表情符号。去年,广告公司Havas London开始为杜蕾斯(Durex)做推广,呼吁发布一个避孕套表情符号。Cerveza Indio想要一个黑啤表情符号。百龄坛(Ballantine’s)主张设计一款威士忌表情符号。稻米公司La Fallera建议推出一款平锅菜饭表情符号(威士忌和平锅菜饭获得批准;两款都将于周二推出)。

For the Olympics, Unicode recently considered encoding a rifle emoji alongside other sport-themed glyphs, but members voted it down. “When vendors looked at it, they didn’t see a lot of additional value in adding it,” said Mark Davis, a Unicode spokesman. “There’s already a firearm in Unicode.”

为了迎接奥林匹克运动会,Unicode最近考虑加入一个来福枪图标,以及其他一些以运动为主题的符号,但是被成员们否决了。“销售商进行考虑时,没有看到它能带来多大的额外价值,”Unicode的发言人马克·戴维斯(Mark Davis)说,“Unicode里本来就有枪支图标。”

That decision has helped stoke concerns that modern visual language is being shaped by the political or financial priorities of gigantic tech companies. While many don’t see the advantage of emojifying another gun, others wonder whether heightened scrutiny could lead to less idiosyncratic, less interesting characters.


“One of the things that make emoji fun is this quirky weird list that came about through accidents of history,” said Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia and a member of Unicode’s emoji subcommittee. “The bomb, the cigarette, the dripping syringe — it’s crazy to think that all of those would make it in today.”

“表情符号的一个有趣之处在于,这个古怪的列表是因为很多历史偶然事件形成的,”Emojipedia创始人、Unicode表情符号分委会成员杰里米·伯格(Jeremy Burge)说,“炸弹、香烟、滴血的注射器——现在想想,这些东西能进入列表,真是疯狂。”