Enter the Emoji

Enter the Emoji

I was having an instant messenger conversation with a couple of my developer coworkers the other day.  One of them asked if I recognized a chunk of code from a project I’d worked on a while back.  He pasted the block of code into the messenger window and clicked send.  What I got was a flurry of smiley cartoon faces, flapping birds, and envelopes disgorging their contents onto the screen.  In other words, Emoji.  Welcome to the new web. For us mere mortals, emoji are basically smiley faces; they are small animated images we can use in text messages and email to add emotions.  The humble semicolon and close-parentheses become a winking face.  😉  Slightly more complicated symbols get transformed into hearts or dancers.  Think emoticons++.  On the surface it seems cute and trite.  But to many users, emoji have become much more than decorations: they add emotions and context to an otherwise flat text message. Apple recently announced they have expanded their emoji collection to be more racially diverse.  Not only does that make sense, given that smart phone use is exploding in developing countries, but it also shows that the practice of adding context-invoking pictures to a message is becoming mainstream practice. Furthermore, what differentiates emoji from emoticons is that emoji are actually part of the character set on a computer.   I’ll say that again, they are part of the machine. I joked with my coworkers that I was going to invent a programming language that was all emoji and emoticons.  They yelled at me.  I kept at it long enough until they laughed.  But the truth is the way we...

Software Project Success 101

So you or your company have this technology project, and it’s really cool and it’s going to be a great success.  All you need to do is get started. The scariest phase of any big job is starting.  That’s the time when you know the least, have the most work left to do, and have the least direction and momentum.  But it’s also the time where creativity and initiative can make a huge (and exciting) impact on the final product.  So how do you get started in a way that minimizes the scary and maximizes the exciting? The short answer is “start with the big stuff.” What Problem are You Solving? It might be something simple like getting the word out about your company in a creative or impactful way, or it might be sophisticated delivery of media to mobile devices.  Know what you’re trying to do, and do that one thing well.  If there are other opportunities that come up during the project, write them down and tackle them next time.  It’s better to do one thing really well than several things poorly. Who are You Solving it For? Know the people who are going to use your technology.  And I mean actually talk to them.  You are one of them?  Great, go talk to a bunch more of them.  Draw pictures, listen, ask for honest feedback, and take it back to the drawing board until people are looking forward to using it.  Even the simple stuff can be compelling, if it means something to people. Who is Your Technology Partner? Find a partner who not only has the...