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How (and Why) We Speak in Unicode(en)


Devon Peticolas

Audience level:



Best Practices/Patterns


A brief history of ascii, encoding, and unicode and how unicode and character encoding is done both wrong and right with examples in python 2.7 and 3.x.


1. To educate about the history and cultural significance of ascii, unicode, and encodings such as UTF-8, UTF-16, and Latin-1. 2. To educate how to understand and use encoding in modern python.


Since the Tower of Babel, humanity has spoken in different languages and fumbled to translate from one to another. When it came time to write and display those languages in software, those fumbles continued with inconsistent encodings and standards. Then came Unicode. A standard that answers the needs to multiple encodings while solving the issues of translating between them. Today we can "shrug", "肩をすくめる", " ¯\\\_(ツ)_/¯", and "🤷🏽‍♀️" all in the same sentence thanks to Unicode. This talk is about the history of encoding and unicode, and how we reason the differences between the two with examples in python.
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