Ever wondered where emojis come from? While there were 176 emojis in the 1990s, available on Japanese mobile phones, between 50 and 70 new emojis are now added every year to many more keyboards. They are selected based on a range of criteria – from how visual to how politically correct they are – and are decided on by large tech companies, big smartphone manufacturers, and a representative from the government of Oman to cover the Middle East and the Arabic language. They all sit in a subcommittee at Unicode, the organisation that oversees the administration and creation of emojis. This year’s trend is to represent the disabled after years of underrepresentation. Next year’s proposed emojis remain to be seen, but discussions within Unicode will surely be lively.
Is technological progress the same everywhere? [Financial Times]
All regions aren’t equal in front of digitalisation. In a recent report, the OECD explains that the impact of technology automation on jobs will vary from one country to another. While regions such as North America, northern Europe or New Zealand are quite safe, others like Southern and Eastern Europe are at a greater risk to experience negative impacts from technology on their job markets. Disparities will also be more visible in rural areas that have less highly skilled workers – as cities generally attract higher educated and skilled workers. Governments will be required to renew their efforts to counter the negative effects of technology and avoid societal disparity.
You shall not block ad blockers [TechCrunch]
Adblock Plus maker, eyeo, has stepped up efforts to tackle so-called “circumvention technologies” – which is tech that prevents ad blockers from being able to actually block ads. Eyeo’s newly created anti-circumvention taskforce is charged with finding technical solutions to third-party circumvention. Previously, efforts were mostly carried out by the open source community, filter list authors and developers of other ad blockers. Circumvention is a cat-and-mouse game though, and it’s probably only a matter of time until ad blocker blockers seek to block Adblock’s efforts to block them (#inception).
Betting it all on African startups [TechCrunch]
Digital infrastructure company Liquid Telecom is going all in on Africa startups – providing sponsorships and free internet at access points across the continent. The company knows that African startups will be the next big employer – and are trying to support them through increasing connectivity throughout the region. Their investments might pay off too, Africa produced its first unicorn in 2016 – Jumia – and there have been other big name exits as well. As African startups continue to grow bigger and gain more notoriety, Liquid Telecom hopes to be right by their side, support their ‘future customers.’
In case you haven’t had enough
When will ultrafast Internet come to your phone? [Bloomberg]
Old media giants turn to VC for their next act [TechCrunch]
Banks jump on to the fintech bandwagon [Financial Times]
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