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Papering the digital world

Emojis are everywhere in our culture – including the bookshelves of the Library of Congress. How is that possible?

In 2009, Fred Benenson decided to translate Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick into all emoji text. Fred says he chose Moby Dick because it is in the public domain, giving him easy access to the novel. “It’s about a huge, seemingly insurmountable challenge, told using metaphors and stylized language, and in a way, that’s what translating a book into emoji is.”

Fred began a Kickstarter campaign to bring the tale to life, eventually raising over $3,500 from 83 backers to help translate Moby Dick’s 6,438 sentences into Japanese emoji using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a platform providing access to a diverse, on-demand, scalable workforce and gives workers a selection of thousands of tasks to complete whenever its convenient.

Whether you see it as a high or low point of the digital era, Emoji Dick was eventually published, garnering extensive media coverage in such prestigious outlets as Time Magazine, Fast Company and Wired Magazine.  In 2013, Emoji Dick was officially acquired by the Library of Congress – the first emoji book in its catalogue collection.

So whether it is books, movies or simply our smartphones, emoji icons continue to creep into our culture and daily lives.  Click here to learn more about the tale of Emoji Dick.

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