Tool Taste: “Made with Code” Emoji Day

Today I tried out Google’s “Made with Code” Project (Google’s main page today says: “It’s World Emoji Day! Teen girls, code an emoji that’s unique like you.”).

This is what the project told me I learned at the end:


While “playing,” I got to choose from a variety of avatars with: (1) different skin tones, hair colors, and hair styles (but not separate), (2) expression of eyes (3) expression of mouth (4) hats that represented different vocations (construction worker, farmer, artist, flower crown enthusiast (?), and so on), (5) tools, and (6) shirt/coat options.

What I felt about this:

Similar to other Google “learn to code” projects, the drag-and-drop structure supersedes a major question I, a non-programmer, have about how to actually code, which is: what program does one use to actually make something? That is, if I really want to make a small program, what tools do I need to use and how do I find out about the tools, various language and platform options, and see models of how real programs work? I know that I could probably learn this on my own  (I’m a fairly decent researcher), but it’s still a barrier to my own taking on of more “coding” experimentation.

The options taught me more things beyond what the end screen shot claims in “What you learned.”

  • I saw how Google dealt with the fraught issues of “Should we be encouraging girls and young women to be career-oriented?” “How do we make this both a toy and propaganda?” “How do we value both STEM fields and other ‘worthy’ occupations?”
  • And even though I understand the activity needed to economize and streamline, I would have liked more options for hair style and hair color.
  • Also, the clothing layered over the tool, so only certain tools made “sense” in the end product, and the tool I wanted, the laptop,  didn’t read as clearly/iconically as the hand-held tools like the wrench and pitchfork. Edit: I just went back and did some more experimenting, and you can change the order of the personalized objects, and that determines the layering, so I “learned” that as well. I also tried choosing options based more on hopes/dreams/pretend rather than trying to realistically represent some aspect of myself. Here are the results of my experiment:Experiment


In the end, though, the playing, experimenting, and finally, this reflection, have moved me closer to investigating more of Google’s resources and using some of my free time this summer to learn more about the questions I’ve had about programming.