People constantly are looking for ways to make classic literature relevant to the modern audience. People these days just don’t read much anymore. That’s why newspapers are dying, magazine circulation is drying up, and writing is on the decline. There’s got to be some way to make Herman Melville’s dense, modernist tome Moby Dick appealing to the young people, right? Well, if Fred Benenson has his way, your kids might be reading a pictograph version called Emoji Dick.
Kids these days love their mobile phones, and Emoji is a Japanese picture-language for mobile phones and webpages that somehow manages to make texting look ambitious. You use a series of little picture characters to stand in for words. Benenson is hoping to use an army of bored Internet users procured via Amazon Mechanical Turk to turn 6,438 sentences into modern hieroglyphics.
You can check out the official Emoji Dick pitch website for more information and a chance to donate. Much like public television, there’s a chance to donate to the project to pay for the workers, and like public television, people who contribute at various funding levels get gifts ranging from a free PDF download to a limited-edition hardcover book of the final project. Here’s hoping the experiment takes off; while I have my doubts about the worthwhile nature of Emoji-fying books, if it leads one kid to pick up some classic literature, it’s a good thing.