Unicode encoding policy

Mark Davis ☕️ mark at macchiato.com
Wed Dec 31 04:53:02 CST 2014

Nicely put, Asmus!

Mark <https://google.com/+MarkDavis>

*— Il meglio è l’inimico del bene —*

On Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 8:46 PM, Asmus Freytag <asmusf at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> On 12/29/2014 10:32 AM, Doug Ewell wrote:
>> Asmus Freytag wrote:
>>  The "critical mass" of support is now assumed for currency symbols,
>>> some special symbols like emoji, and should be granted to additional
>>> types of symbols, punctuations and letters, whenever there is an
>>> "authority" that controls normative orthography or notation.
>>> Whether this is for an orthography reform in some country or addition
>>> to the standard math symbols supported by AMS journals, such external
>>> adoption can signify immediate "critical need" and "critical mass of
>>> option" for the relevant characters.
>> To me, it is remarkable that the "critical mass of support" argument that
>> is applied, entirely appropriately, to new currency symbols (however
>> misguided the motives for such might be) and math symbols and characters
>> for people's names, is now also applied to BURRITO and UNICORN FACE.
>>  Does it - in principle - matter what a symbol is used for? If millions
> of happy users choose to communicate by peppering their messages with
> BURRITO and UNICORN FACE is that any less worthy of standardization than if
> thousands (or hundreds) of linguists use some arcane letterform to mark
> pronunciation differences between neighboring dialects on the Scandinavian
> peninsula?
> The "critical mass" argument does not (and should not) make value
> judgements, but instead focus on whether the infrastructure exists to make
> a character code widely available pretty much directly after publication,
> and whether there is implicit or explicit demand that would guarantee that
> such code is actually widely used the minute it comes available.
> For currency symbols, or for a new letter form demanded by a new or
> revised, but standard, orthography, the demand is created by some
> "authority" creating a requirement for conforming users. Because of that,
> the evaluation of the "critical mass" requirement is straightforward.
> Emoji lack an "authority", but they do not lack demand. For better or for
> worse, they have grabbed significant mind share; the number of news
> reports, blogs, social media posts, shared videos and what not that were
> devoted to Emoji simply dwarfs anything reported on currency symbols in a
> comparative time frame. With tracking applications devoted to them, anyone
> can convince themselves, in real time, that the entire repertoire is being
> used, even, as appropriate for such a collection, with a clear
> differentiation by frequency.
> Nevertheless, the indication is clear that any emoji that will be added by
> the relevant vendors is going to be used as soon as it comes available.
> Further, as no vendor has a closed ecosystem, to be usable requires
> agreement on how they are coded.
> The critical question, and I fully understand that this gives you pause,
> is one of selection. There are hundreds, if not thousands of potential
> additions to the emoji collection, some fear the set is, in principle,
> endless. Lacking an "authority" how does one come to a principled agreement
> on encoding any emoji now, rather than later.
> One would run an experiment, which is to say, create an alternate
> environment where users can use non-standard emoji and then the
> Uni-scientists in white lab coats could count the frequency of usage and
> promote the cream off the top to standardized codes.
> Or one could run an experiment where one defines a small number of slots,
> say 40, and opens them up for public discussion, and proceeds on that
> basis. Yes, that would turn the UTC into the "authority".
> My personal take is that the former approach is inappropriate for
> something that is in high demand and actively supported; the latter I can
> accept, provisionally, as an experiment to try to deal with an evolving
> system. Because of the ability to track, in real time, the use or non-use
> of any of the new additions it would be a true experiment, the outcome of
> which can be accurately measured. If it should lead to the standardization
> of few dozen symbols that prove not as popular as predicted, then we would
> conclude a failure of the experiment, and retire this process. Otherwise,
> I'd have no problem cautiously continuing with it.
>  But then, I remember when folks used to cite the WG2 "Principles and
>> Procedures" document for examples of what was and was not a good candidate
>> for encoding. That seems so long ago now.
> The P&P, like most by-laws and constitutions, are living documents. In
> this case, they try to capture best practice, without taking from the UTC
> (or WG2) the ability to deal with new or changed situations.
> The degree to which emoji have captured the popular imagination is
> unprecedented. It means the game has changed. Let's give the UTC the space
> to work out appropriate coping mechanisms.
> A./
> PS: this does not mean that, for all other types of code points, the
> existing wording on the P&P can simply be disregarded. In fact, the end
> result will be to see them updated with additional criteria explicitly
> geared towards the kind of high-profile use case we are discussing here.
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