Literacy The Verge has a long (and cleverly formatted) interview with Shigetaka Kurita, man who invented emoji, the graphical version of emoticons:
"Not being a designer himself (he was an economics major), the young Docomo employee’s plan was to draft some ideas to show manufacturers like Sharp, Panasonic, and Fujitsu — large companies with the design resources to throw at the problem. Kurita was surprised to find that the they didn’t immediately share his zeal for the project. “They were like, ‘please, you design them.’ They had a lot of reasons — these were the first devices that supported i-mode, they didn’t have the resources, that kind of thing,” he explains. Faced with few options, he grabbed some paper and a pencil, gathered his team, and, without really knowing what he was doing, got to work. He aimed to create a complete set of 176 12-pixel by 12-pixel characters that could cover the entire breadth of human emotion."

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