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Social communication is incomplete without emojis

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Since the industrial revolution, communication methods have significantly evolved from year to year. From sending letters, the communication methods shifted to telegraph, telegram, and telephone. 

The 1990s saw the dawn of Internet technology as it became widely available to the public. Sending emails and text messages would only take a moment, but something was amiss. 

Formal conversations never needed any form of expression, but it was hard to replicate one's current emotion through texts in informal conversations. Visual symbols were required to express them, but the idea didn't come to fruition until the late 1990s.

The concept of using visual symbols to convey meaning is old. The earliest forms of communication relied on pictographs—simple drawings representing objects, actions, or concepts. Ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians and Mayans used these symbols to record information and stories. 

Fast forward to the digital era, and the precursor to modern emojis is found in the form of emoticons. Computer scientist Scott Fahlman created emoticons in 1982 using keyboard characters to express emotions, popularising them in early internet communication.

In Japan, Shigetaka Kurita, a telecommunication engineer at NTT Docomo, was the first to invent a way to express emotions through texts 1997. He created a pictogram of a pixelated heart that could be easily typed online. 

Soon, the idea of using such pictograms in texts and emails spread throughout Japan. Inspired by the Japanese manga visual style, the pictogram set developed by NTT Docomo was named 'Emoji', the term derived from two Japanese words: "e" (picture) and "moji" (character).

The real turning point for emojis came with the invention of smartphones. As texting and instant messaging became mainstream, tech giants like Apple and Google recognised the potential of emojis to enhance user engagement. Emojis were standardised across platforms, enabling constant communication across devices and operating systems.

This led to their rapid adoption on a global scale, transcending language barriers and allowing users to convey emotions, reactions, and even complex ideas with a single symbol. Nowadays, online conversations without emojis can't be imagined. Emojis have become an integral part of global communication methods as the best possible language to express emotions easily and colourfully.

Emojis have evolved beyond simple smileys and hearts. They now encompass many emotions, objects, animals, food, and activities. This has given rise to the 'emoji language' concept, where entire conversations can be conducted using these symbols. Emojis have become integral to pop culture, influencing art, fashion, and even advertising.

One of the most intriguing aspects of emojis is their ability to convey nuances and emotions that text alone often struggles to capture. A well-placed emoji can add humour, empathy, or sarcasm to a message, enhancing the overall tone and meaning. In a world where simple messages get gravely misunderstood, using emojis to convey the exact language is necessary.

Emojis also hold cultural significance, often reflecting societal trends and values. Recently, the existing emoji sets included diverse skin tones in emojis. Thus, it is a big step towards representing a more inclusive world.

The Unicode Consortium, responsible for emoji standardisation, has been actively working to expand representation, including gender-neutral emojis and those depicting disabilities. This ongoing effort ensures that emojis remain relevant and relatable to diverse global audiences. 

Emojis have also been used as tools for activism, raising awareness about social issues, and expressing solidarity during movements.

As technology advances, emojis are determined to play an even more significant role in communication. With the rise of augmented and virtual reality, emojis could become dynamic and interactive, allowing users to express themselves in new and immersive ways.

Emojis may also evolve to incorporate AI-driven customisation, such as adapting to individual communication styles and preferences. In 2019, Microsoft SwiftKey 'Puppets' brought advanced AI technology into play. The system was trained to track and record muscular movements using a dataset of videos and images of facial expressions, and it takes only 30 seconds to generate an emoji clip.

The history of emojis is proof of human ingenuity and our constantly evolving modes of communication. From ancient hieroglyphs to modern-day digital symbols, emojis have changed how we express ourselves. They transcended linguistic boundaries and became the global language that connected people across cultures.

In the future, emojis are expected to play a more dynamic and influential role in shaping the way we communicate in this digital age.

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