The Presentation of the Pictogrammic “Self” and Persona

Emoji’s historical emergence and proliferation in digital culture




Emoji, Emoticon, Pictograms, Hieroglyphs, Co-Presence, Heraldry, Blazoning, Digital Culture, Expressive Remediation, Logos, Emotion, Mnemonics, Protobrands


This article focuses on the history of emoji. From the identifiable smiley face from the 1960s and 1970s to the computer and early Internet culture of using emoticons, it describes how this form of communication filled certain gaps in our structure of conveying sentiment and feeling and works at the construction of a constructed persona of the self in contemporary culture. Connected to this study is the historical connection to pictograms and character-based languages; in that analysis and its linguistic emphasis, the article concludes with the possibility that the development of emoji helps us understand how language and its rearticulation in “text” and “image” has worked to produce collective and common meanings. Research into the differences in written languages – from alphanumeric structures to hieroglyphs and character-based systems – is integrated into positioning emoji and their collective meaning systems. The article concludes with a comprehensive reading of how emoji – in its massive migration and integration from its Japanese imagistic origins to its now routine play in across a myriad of cultures - constructs a strategic form of communication
that conveys a tactical expression of self and our persona in and through digital culture.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

David Marshall

P David Marshall holds a professorship and personal chair in New Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Deakin University.  He is the author of many books including Celebrity and Power (2014),Celebrity Persona Pandemic (2016), Persona Studies (2019), Advertising and Promotional Culture: Case Histories (2018), Web Theory (2003), New Media Cultures (2004), Fame Games (2000), and editor or co-editor of  Contemporary Publics (2016),  A Companion to Celebrity (2015), and The Celebrity Culture Reader (2006) along with many articles and book chapters that explore persona, fame, popular culture and online and new media. He is one of the founding editors of the journal Persona Studies. He was also the founder of M/C: Media and Culture  an online journal started in 1998. He regularly provides expert commentary on public persona, persona studies, celebrity and online culture. 


ALINEJAD, D. 2019. Careful co-presence: The transnational mediation of emotional intimacy. Social Media+ Society, 5, 2056305119854222.

BAINES, J. 1989. Communication and display: the integration of early Egyptian art and writing. Antiquity, 63, 471-482.

BREGMAN, A. & HAYTHORNTHWAITE, C. 2003. Radicals of presentation: visibility, relation, and co-presence in persistent conversation. New Media & Society, 5, 117-140.

BROOKE-LITTLE, J. 1973. Boutell's Heraldry, rev edn. London.

BRYANT, K. N. 2016. “The Writing’s on the Wall” Making the Case for Hieroglyphs in the 21st-Century Composition Classroom. CLA Journal, 60, 191-208.

BOLTER, J. D. & GRUSIN, R. 1999. Remediation: understanding new media, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press.

BURLING, R., ARMSTRONG, D. F., BLOUNT, B. G., CALLAGHAN, C. A., FOSTER, M. L., KING, B. J., PARKER, S. T., SAKURA, O., STOKOE, W. C. & WALLACE, R. 1993. Primate calls, humanlanguage, and nonverbal communication [and comments and reply]. Current Anthropology, 34, 25-53.

DAHMEN, K. 2007. The legend of Alexander the Great on Greek and Roman coins, Abingdon Oxon, UK, Routledge.

— 2007, The legend of Alexander the Great on Greek and Roman coins, Routledge.

DANESI, M. 2007. Why it sells: Decoding the meanings of brand names, logos, ads, and other marketing and advertising ploys, Rowman & Littleuield Publishers.

— 2016. The semiotics of emoji: The rise of visual language in the age of the internet, Bloomsbury Publishing.

DANGERFIELD, W. 2008. ‘Snapshot: Athens Central Market’, Online:

DANZIGER, K. 2009. Marking the mind: A history of memory, Cambridge University Press.

DEKEL, A. 2011. “Letters & More” Exhibit at the Tower of David Museum [Online]. Midnight East. Available: [Accessed 2 December 2023


DELTA FLIGHT MUSEUM. History: Delta Brand [Online]. Available:'s%20Corporate%20Logo%3A%20The%20Widget,with%20its%20uirst%20jet%20service.&text=Resembles%20the%20swept%20wing%20appearance,alphabet%2C%20which%20is%20delta%20%E2%88%86 [Accessed 12 Dec 2023


DEY, S. 2019. “Wicked Problems in Interface Design: Reflections on the Theories and Practices of Remediation”, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia. Pp.37-38

GALLOWAY, P. 2016, “The Original NTT DOCOMO Emoji set has been Added to The Museum of Modern Art’s Collection”, 16 October 2016. Accessed 29 May 2018. Available:


GIBSON J. J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), Boston.

GROSS, E. L. 2017. How Emojis Have Made Their Way Into Business :-). Forbes. Accessed 7 December 2018: have-made-their-way-into-business/#2d62e9d022bd

INNIS, H. A. 2007(1951). Empire and communications, Rowman & Littlefield.

— 2008. The bias of communication, University of Toronto Press.

LAWRENCE, K. 2018 “The Sinister Corporate History of the Smiley Face”. Montag. Accessed 24 May 2019. Available online:

MCDONALD M. 2018, “Newfoundland’s coat of arms depicting ‘noble savages’ redesign”. Toronto Star. 22 June. Online:

MARSHALL, P. D., MOORE, C. & BARBOUR, K. 2020. Persona Studies: An Introduction, Hoboken, NJ, Wiley Blackwell.

MARSHALL, D. 2022. Correlating affect and emotion: Covidiquette and the expanding curation of online persona(s). Thesis Eleven, 169, 8-25.

MIDDLETON, P. 2014. 'Marks, signs and images: the sense of belonging and commitment which pre-dates history but has now become a powerful global language', in Z Evripides (ed.), Semiotics and Visual Communication: Concepts and Practices, Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle Upon Tyne, pp. 310-21.

MOORE, K. & REID, S. 2008. The birth of brand: 4000 years of branding, Business History, 50:4,419-432, DOI: 10.1080/00076790802106299

NORMAN, D. A. 1999. Affordance, conventions, and design. interactions, 6, 38-43.

PARDES, A. 2018. “The Wired Guide to Emoji”, WIRED. 1 Feb. Online:

ROBBINS, B. 2005. The talking ape: How language evolved. Oxford University Press.

SAVAGE, J. 2009. “A design for Life”, The Guardian . Access 24 May 2019. Available online: dG9rbm6CsqB8/edit

STEINMETZ, K. 2017. “Forget Words, a lot of Millennial Say GIFs and Emojis Communicate Their Thoughts Better than English”, Time. 27 June. Available Online:

STERN, B. 2006. What does brand mean? historical-analysis method and construct definition. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 34: 216. doi: 10.1177/0092070305284991.

TAGGART, C. 2015. New words for old: Recycling our language for the modern world, Michael O'Mara Books.

TOMASELLO, M. 2010. Origins of human communication, MIT press.

TOMIC{, M. K., MARINEZ, M. & VRBANEC, T. 2013. Emoticons. FIP-Financije i pravo, 1, 35-42.

TOMLINSON, G. 2015. A Million Years of Music: the Emergence of Human Modernity, New York, N.Y. USA, Zone Books.

WELLMAN, B., QUAN-HAASE, A., BOASE, J., CHEN, W., HAMPTON, K., DI{AZ, I. & MIYATA, K. 2003. The social affordances of the Internet for networked individualism. Journal of computermediated communication, 8, JCMC834.

WILKINSON, R. H. 1992. Reading Egyptian art : a hieroglyphic guide to ancient Egyptian painting and sculpture, London, Thames and Hudson.

WIKIPEDIA 2019. “Emoticon”. Accessed 12 March. Online:

ZAPPAVIGNA, M. & LOGI, L. 2021. Emoji in social media discourse about working from home. Discourse, Context & Media, 44, 100543.




How to Cite

Marshall, D. (2023). The Presentation of the Pictogrammic “Self” and Persona : Emoji’s historical emergence and proliferation in digital culture . Persona Studies, 9(1), 52–70.