We’ve all seen and been amused by emojis for the taco, pizza, and the hamburger. But what about the dumpling? An online movement pushing for the representation of “one of the most universal cross-cultural foods in the world” is also raising larger issues about the need to bring more democracy to the Internet.
While companies such as Apple have made great strides to give users more options, The Dumpling Emoji Project insists that there’s much to be desired in the way of food emoji. They argue that the lack of a usable dumpling emoji ignores an entire genre of global cuisine that includes Poland’s pierogi, Japan’s gyoza, or Italy’s ravioli, to name a few.
The time for change, they say, is now. And to tackle the task of bringing the dumpling to the digital lexicon, the group, which includes former New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee, is calling upon like-minded individuals to get involved by signing their petition and spreading awareness through “dumpling parties” or the #dumplingemoji and #emojination hashtags. They will also launch a Kickstarter campaign next week to raise enough money to become a nonprofit member of the Unicode Consortium—the overseer of all standard emoji—which would allow them half a vote when deciding upon new emoji.
Though the movement toward more diverse food emoji is admirable in its own right, the group also wants to shine a light on the voting process. Currently, the Unicode Consortium is comprised of only 11 full voting corporations (all recognizable players such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo) that pay $18,000 a year for that privilege. And though the $7,500 they aim to raise would give them some input in the immediate future, the Dumpling Emoji Project hopes its campaign will be the first step toward a more democratic means of choosing our emoji.