Texting with words is so passé. To celebrate the emoji’s cultural influence, SFGate reports that fans of the tiny digital images will gather in San Francisco this weekend for Emojicon—which organizers call the world’s first convention dedicated to all things hearts, smiley faces, frowns, and more.
The convention kicks off tonight on November 4 with an emoji-themed costume party (serving foods that have been made into emojis, no less), and runs through Sunday, November 6. Scheduled events include emoji karaoke, an emoji-centric film festival, an emoji spelling bee, and emoji workshops focused on everything from diversity to design. Attendees can even suggest new emoji to members of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee.
According to Emogi, a real-time emotional marketing platform, "an estimated 4.8 trillion mobile messages will be sent incorporating emoji" by the end of 2016. Due to their ubiquity, some people argue that emojis are no longer just tiny cartoons—they're a cultural force to be reckoned with.
“Emojis represent so much more than just cute digital characters,” Yvonne Ng, global marketing manager at Chinese web services company Baidu, told SFGate. “They have become a universal language, a form of self-expression and a part of unique cultural identities.” Ng will lead a panel called “Speaking in Kaomoji,” a Japanese emoticon style featuring Japanese characters and grammar punctuations.
Tonight’s opening party will be held at Covo, a co-working space, and the remainder of the conference will take place at Bespoke, a co-working and event space at the Westfield San Francisco Centre. Ticket prices range $10 to $500 and are still available for purchase online. For more information, visit Emojicon’s website.