• Jennifer 8. Lee

  • Work

    I'm cofounder of a literary studio called Plympton, which focuses on innovation and publishing and our latest project is Writing Atlas. I wrote a book and produce documentaries. I work where technology x journalism with Hacks/Hackers. I also have co-led a Y Combinator Demo Day seed fund for Angel List. Once upon a time, I was the youngest full reporter for The New York Times. I'm a former vice-chair of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee. You can find an official bio here. Some of my projects are below.

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    Emojination: The Dumpling and Hijab Emoji


    Emojination, a grassroots group whose motto is "Emoji For the People, By The People," advocates for more inclusive and representative emoji. I cofounded by Yiying Lu with the Dumpling Emoji Project, a successful two-year campaign with Yiying Lu to bring dumpling representation to Unicode.

    Emoji we have created are the hijab emoji, the bagel emoji and the lobster emoji.and interracial couple emoji. Fast Company did a profile on us.. We also have run the successful Emojicon conference and fun Emoji Spelling Bee. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has collected the Hijab and Interracial Emojis for its permanent collection. The interracial couple has also been honored by a Webby Award and a Fast Company Innovation in Design finalist in two categories, graphic design and general excellence!

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    WikiPortrait Studio


    WikiPortraits is a project to get more Creative Commons-licensed portrait photos taken for Wikipedia and WikiCommons. Led by Wikimedia Commons photographers with support from the Wikimedia Foundation, WikiPortraits seeks to gather freely-licensed photos of notable figures at-scale by hosting events at conferences, festivals, and more to fill this gap. At these events, we sometimes set up a photo booth where anyone with a Wikipedia page—speaker or not—may drop by and have their photo taken. We also send roaming photographers to capture press lines, panels and keynotes.


    Among the events our photographers have captured: Sundance Film Festival 2024, SXSW 2024, the Pulitzer Prizes.

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    The Harvard Computers, a Sundance Sloan Project


    I am a 2021 Sundance Sloan Episodic Fellow for The Harvard Computers, an episodic series, written by Graham Sack , about an underacknowledged group of women who contributed to key astronomical research in the early 20th Century while working in the Harvard Observatory. Harvard Magazine and The Harvard Crimson have profiled me and Graham.

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    The Search for General Tso (and other films)


    The Search for General Tso premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Based on my book research, the documentary was directed by Ian Cheney and produced by me and Amanda Murray. Tso was released January 2, 2015 in theaters and has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. I also help produce other films, which have appeared at the Sundance and SXSW Film Festivals.

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    MisinfoCon and the Credibility Coalition


    MisinfoCon started as a summit on misinformation at the MIT Media Lab in February 2017. It was one of the largest gatherings to focus on trust, verification, fact checking, and reader experience. Sponsors and hosts included Mozilla, Knight Foundation, Craig Newmark, the Nieman Foundation, and First Draft, among others. It has since given birth to the Credibility Coalition, a research community that fosters collaborative approaches to understanding the veracity, quality and credibility of online information that is a foundation of civil society. CredCo has been supported by the Knight Foundation, Google, Facebook, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and Twitter. Misinfocon now helps with the Misinformation Village at DEF CON.

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    The Fortune Cookie Chronicles


    The Fortune Cookie Chronicles was my book about how Chinese food is actually all-American. It hit #26 on the New York Times Best Seller List and was featured on Colbert Report, Martha Stewart, TED.com, CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR stations coast to coast. Plus it was a Borders Original Voices and Book Sense selections.

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    The Hanmoji Handbook


    Co-wrote a kids book from MITeen Press (copublished with Candlewick) with my friends Jason Li and An Xiao Mina. It combines two of the things I love best, Chinese characters, and emoji, and finds the similarity between them. It started with a texting joke between me and An, and ended with Jason bringing it over the finish line.

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    Goodside is a community of film and arts lovers that comes together at large scale events like Sundance, Cannes and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We support artists and creators, and have been mentioned in The New York Times.

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    The WikiCred project advances the idea that Wikipedia and Wikimedia play a critical role in providing a scaleable infrastructure to improve the quality of information on the Internet. We have given out microgrants to the community and organized a WikiCredCon in 2019. The project has been funded from Microsoft, Facebook and Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

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    The Emoji Story


    The Emoji Story (formerly Picture Character) takes the audience behind the ever evolving world of picture characters, from their humble beginnings in Japan 🇯🇵 to mobile keyboards 📱 the world 🌎 over, and shed fresh light 💡 on the private consortium 👥 that approves new emoji offerings and the individuals fighting ✊ to make the language more representative of its billions of users. Directed Martha Shane and Ian Cheney, the doc premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019 and was an AFI Official Selection.

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    Lincoln in the Bardo VR


    I was an executive producer of an immersive VR piece for The New York Times based on George Saunders' novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. The piece was directed by Graham Sack and was also produced by Sensorium. Read more about it in Variety.

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    Recovering the Classics


    Recovering the Classics is a crowdsourced collection of original covers for great works in the public domain where anyone can contribute.The project was a collaboration between Plympton and the Creative Action Network. We partnered with the White House, the New York Public Library and the Digital Public Library of America.


    You can host your own local Recovering the Classics exhibit as part of our 50x50 campaign.

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    NewsDiffs is a website that records changes to news organizations' websites. It was created in June 2012 at the Knight Mozilla hackathon at MIT with Eric Price (now a professor at University of Texas Austin). The project has received lots and lots of press attention.

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    Long Bio

    Jennifer 8. Lee is an entrepreneur, documentary producer, journalist, seed investor and emoji activist.


    She has co-led an Angel List seed investment fund for Y Combinator, was a 2018 Fast Company Most Creative Person in Business, and is a Sundance Sloan fellow. She is co-founder and CEO of Plympton, a literary studio that innovates in digital publishing. Among their projects is Recovering the Classics, and a VR film based on George Saunders' Man Booker Prize winning novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.


    A former New York Times reporter, Jenny is a producer of The Search for General Tso and The Emoji Story (formerly Picture Character), both which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festivals. She was also an executive producer for The Price, which premiered at SXSW, and an associate producer for Give Me Liberty and the Emmy-winning Chasing Coral, both of which premiered at Sundance.


    She is also the author of the New York Times-bestselling book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles (Twelve, 2008), which established fortune cookies are originally Japanese.

    Jenny's recent work focuses a lot on misinformation, having co-founded the Credibility Coalition and MisinfoCon. She is a co-chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Futures Council for Media, Entertainment and Sport.

    She is the founder of Emojination, a grassroots group whose motto is "Emoji by the people, for the people." As part of that organization, she successfully lobbied for a dumpling, hijab and interracial couple emojis among others. She cofounded Emojicon and was a vice-chair of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee.


    Jenny has served as the lead judge for the $25 million Knight News Challenge, and on the launch team for Upworthy. She coined the term "man date."


    Jenny also serves on the the Center for Public Integrity, MuckRock Foundation, the Digital Public Library of America, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Hacks/Hackers and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Inside Climate News. She also serves on the committees for the New York Public Library Young Lions, the Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards, and SXSW programming.


    Jenny graduated with a degree in Applied Math and Economics from Harvard, where she was vice president of The Harvard Crimson. She then spent a year at Beijing University on fellowship.

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