2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Emoji & Texting: Is Human Language Extinct?

#sxsw #langtech


52,000: The number of texts sent every second around the world. The proliferation of texting has exploded, starting with basic SMS in the late ‘90s, evolving to advanced iMessages and Emoji (picture characters) used to inject emotional cues and nuance into conversations.
Humans have gone from ancient cave paintings to complex language development, and now we’re returning to pictorial symbols again. Texting has been bemoaned as the downfall of the written word, yet it’s innovating its own grammar and conventions. What does this signal about the evolution of the human language? How will emerging technology change the way we communicate – with each other and with brands – in the future?
Join Sam Huston of JumpTank and linguist Ben Zimmer as they examine the use of symbols in language, how the human language is evolving alongside technology and its impact on culture, from brand interactions to expressions of personal narratives.
The track is sponsored by the Knight Foundation.



Ben Zimmer

Exec Producer


Ben Zimmer is executive producer of Vocabulary.com and VisualThesaurus.com. He is the language columnist for The Wall Street Journal and the former language columnist for The New York Times Magazine and The Boston Globe. He has worked as editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press and as a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary. His "Word Routes" column appears on Vocabulary.com and VisualThesaurus.com, and he also contributes to the group weblog Language Log. He serves as the chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society.


Sam Huston



Sam is fortunate enough to spend everyday working with a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to using the dynamics of the connected world to reinvent the way people interact with brands.
At Jumptank reinvention doesn’t mean starting from scratch. Sam’s in belief in rethinking and renewing helps ensure that the ideas and innovations that we create for brands don’t abandon what has been proven successful.

Over the last 14 years, Sam has developed deep experience working in a variety of functions across a variety of agency specialties including media, creative, and entertainment.

This experience has provided him a deep understanding of traditional processes ensuring that the solutions we deliver to brands are innovative and new while retaining elements proven to drive success.

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