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.


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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. 


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How to Cite

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