Emojli social media site to launch soon
You can't visit a website these days without spotting one, two or ten social media icons tucked into a corner. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Google+, Pinterest, they're everywhere.
Well brace yourself, because a whole new social networking site that will take digital communication to a whole new level is due to launch in late July or early August.
Emojli goes one step further than the surprisingly successful Yo app that only sends one word. It will offer users a vocabulary of exactly zero words. Zero. You won't even be able to use your real name as your user name.
Instead, Emojli users will communicate entirely in emoji, small images no larger than the size of capital letters that denote commonly used objects, emotions and ideas.
More than 50,000 people have signed up to the site already, reserving one of just over 250,000 usernames of two emojis.
In the launch video, founders Matt Gray (user name is a smiley face) and Tom Scott (a shooting star emoji) argue social networks are broken, overrun with spam.
But even they weren't serious about the idea at first. The pair told Forbes they were chatting about the Yo app and a new batch of emojis when the idea took hold.
"The two of us had the idea at about the same time - we weren’t sold on it until we realised that usernames should be emoji too," Gray said. "At that point, we burst out laughing and realised we had to build it."
While emoji-only communication may sound weird to those new to the communication tactic, it could be a natural progression for the quirky icons, which have been used over 4 billion times since 2013 according to NBC. The most popular are heart symbols, followed by crying happy face and a bemused face, all of which have been hundreds of millions of times.
The coder behind NBC's emoji tracking is product designer Matthew Rothenberg.
“The symbols themselves don’t have that much intrinsic meaning, but the way we’ve used them – we’ve socially embedded so much meaning into them,” Mr Rothenberg said. “A lot of these emoji characters have personalities and connotations to using them socially. That’s not a technical invention, that’s a social and cultural invention, something we’ve done ourselves.”
Hundreds, possibly thousands are used every minute. Emojitracker is a real time tracker of emojis on Twitter. It flickers every second, lighting up which emojis are being used online. Images of people, drinks and particularly this month soccer balls are all popular.
While emoji can be conjured from letters tapped into a phone, many phone and social platforms have menus from which users can select their icons directly.
The launch of a network entirely devoted to emojis is the zenith of a trend 15 years in the making.
Emojis were first launched in 1999 when Japanese mobile phone companies noticed their customers were sending more images every week.
The little images were crafted by engineers in a research lab who were tasked to urgently find a way to keep 80 million Japanese mobile phone users happy with limited bandwidth available.
Prior to the global spread of emojis, the western equivalent were emoticons. These were usually faces communicated through letters, later rendered online as bright yellow faces and colorful symbols.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the first emoticon was used in 1982 when a joke warning about a fake mercury spill was pinned to a notice board at Carnegie Mellon University, sparking panic.
To prevent future incidents and enable humour, faculty member Scott Fahlman sent the following message.
I propose that [sic] the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use: :-("
Although the creation of the original emoticon could go to US president Abraham Lincoln, who penned a speech transcript that could include a winking emoticon ;) but as the smile is an existing end parenthesis, it could just be an error.