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Emoji mean different things to different people, leading to lots of confusion at the workplace and beyond, Eleanor Hawkins reports today.

Today's newsletter is 754 words ... 3 minutes.

1 big thing: Emoji confusion

Axios Visuals: 2024-05-09-emoji-meaning
Data: Preply;Β Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Eight in 10 Americans have been stumped by emoji use, according to a new report from language education platform Preply.

Why it matters: Emoji have become a pop culture staple and a tool for quick and fun visual communication, but varying cultural and generational uses are mixing people up.

Driving the news: Preply surveyed 2,201 Americans from February 1-29 to better understand how people interpret different emoji.

  • The most confusing emoji? πŸ’….
  • While 40% of respondents use the icon to signify luxury or indulgence, others say it means "nail polish," "don't mind me" or "self-care."
  • πŸ’¨ and πŸ™ƒ are the second- and third-most misinterpreted emoji.

Zoom in: Geographic location plays into emoji confusion, the report finds.

  • The nail polish emoji is most often misinterpreted by those living in the West and Midwest, while the dashing away emoji stumps those living in the Northeast.
  • The upside-down emoji confuses those in the South.

Zoom out: Hand gesture emoji should be avoided when communicating with global audiences, as they are often perceived to have very different meanings.

  • For example: The OK hand emoji (πŸ‘Œ) is typically interpreted as "understood" or "perfect" in Western cultures.
  • However, in Brazil and parts of Southern Europe, it's considered obscene.
  • In Japan it signifies money.
  • Australian aboriginal people and some Middle Easterners view it as a symbol of evil.

Between the lines: Most people add emoji to their communications to appear funny or more approachable, especially at work.

Yes, but: 48% of Americans have seen a misinterpreted emoji create an uncomfortable situation, per Preply's report.

What to watch: 118 new emoji will be introduced in 2024.

  • Of those, the phoenix (πŸ¦β€πŸ”₯) and the head-shaking (🫨) emoji are already causing the most confusion.

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2. πŸ“ˆ Trendy baby names

A chart showing changes in U.S. baby name popularity, 2013-2023. The names that have gained the most in popularity are Theo, Atlas, and Nova. The names that have decreased the most are Jase, Alexa, and Gavin.
Data: Social Security Administration; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Thinking up a name for a little one on the way? Consider "Theo," "Atlas" or "Nova."

The big picture: Those three have risen the most in popularity since 2013, according to new Social Security Administration data.

Zoom in: Coming in fifth place? "Luka" β€” maybe thanks to Dallas Mavericks fans.

Losers: "Jase," "Alexa" and "Gavin."

  • No surprise on that second one, given parents' desire to avoid accidentally triggering their Amazon smart gadgets.

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3. AI is eating the web

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Google's shift toward AI-generated search results is rewiring the internet β€” and could accelerate the decline of the 30+-year-old World Wide Web.

Why it matters: A world where Google answers most questions in a single machine voice makes online life more convenient β€” and duller.

  • The change also threatens to cut into Google's revenue from search ads, and starve future AIs of the human data they'll need.

Driving the news: Google recently announced that it's rolling out "AI Overviews" to everyone in the U.S.

  • That means the world's most popular search engine will answer many or most queries with a paragraph or two written by generative AI.
  • This system still relies on web-based information, but it doesn't nourish the creators of that information with users' visits.

Friction point: Publishers and retailers are terrified that this will cut deep into their referral traffic and decimate their businesses.

  • But there's even deeper damage likely to be wreaked by Google's shift.
  • By making it even less inviting for humans to contribute to the web's collective pool of knowledge, Google's summary answers could also leave its own and everyone else's AI tools with less accurate, less timely and less interesting information.

Keep reading.

4. No ticket? No national park

A view from Rocky Mountain National Park's Alpine Visitor Center. Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images

Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park is one of several popular U.S. national parks now requiring timed entry reservations during peak seasons.

Why it matters: Overcrowding has been hitting U.S. national parks hard, and park officials are turning to timed entry systems to help manage demand.

How it works: From May 24 through mid-October, you'll need a timed entry reservation to enter Rocky Mountain National Park between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

  • Reservations cost $2, in addition to the entry fee β€” and you can still expect long lines at the main entrance gates.
  • You can book online up to a month beforehand, or at 7 p.m. the night before your visit, when park officials release 40% of the available passes.

Zoom out: Washington's Mount Rainier National Park, Utah's Arches National Park and Montana's Glacier National Park are also using some form of timed entry system this season.

By the numbers: The country's national parks had 325.5 million visitors last year, per the National Park Service, up 4% from 2022.

  • 20 parks β€” "many of them less well known" β€” broke their visitor records last year, NPS says.

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Big thanks to What's Next copy editor Amy Stern.

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