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September 11, 2019

Emoji Dick; or, The Whale


It began as Fred Benenson's Kickstarter campaign and grew like Topsy.

From Kickstarter:

Here's an excerpt from an interview I did with the New Yorker's Book Bench about Emoji Dick

No, seriously โ€” why?

I'm interested in the phenomenon of how our language, communications, and culture are influenced by digital technology.

Emoji are either a low point or a high point in that story, so I felt I could confront a lot of our shared anxieties about the future of human expression (see: Twitter or text messages) by forcing a great work of literature through such a strange new filter.


Out of all the books out there, why "Moby-Dick"? 

First, I needed a public domain book that I could get the plain-text version of easily.

The Bible seemed too obvious.

I then wanted something very large and long, so that I could demonstrate the scale possible with Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

"Moby-Dick" seemed to fit those criteria, so I just went for it, and assigned the first couple chapters as a test run.

The results were fantastic.


I then realized that the story behind "Moby-Dick" is about this huge, seemingly insurmountable challenge, told using metaphors and stylized language, and in a way, that's what translating a book into emoji is โ€” a weird, huge challenge told in metaphors and stylized language.

I also really like the whale emoji, so that seemed like a good fit, too.

Each of Moby Dick's 6,438 sentences will be translated 3 times by different Amazon Mechanical Turk workers.

Those results will then be voted on by another set of workers, and the most popular version of each sentence will be selected for inclusion in the book.


Read it here.

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 1.29.59 PM

Free, the way we like it.

If you'd prefer it on paper, you can opt for the softcover version ($40) or the hardcover ($200), both here.

Fair warning: there goes the month (at a minimum).

September 11, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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