|Credit: Marc Aspinall|
Humans have been using symbols to communicate and convey emotion since the Stone Age
Genevieve von Petzinger. What is an emoji? We often think of these cute little characters as a way to add a graphic element to a tweet or Facebook post, but these simple images are powerful symbols. Emoji are, in fact, compact characters that, because of their visual nature, can communicate an amazing amount of information, such as the subtleties of human emotion.
It's not just emoji: we use this type of graphic communication constantly in our daily lives - everything from a stop sign to the Christian cross - all are methods for conveying information (sometimes quite complex) using simple abstract shapes. The reason this works is that, as a society, we have created agreed upon meanings for these symbols. So when we see one, we instantly know how to interpret it, without even thinking.
And we certainly can't forget about symbolic systems such as the written word or computer coding. You could make a pretty good argument that the making of graphic marks underpins the foundation of modern society. But what people don't often think about is how long ago this practice was invented, or that if you go back far enough, you will reach a point in our prehistory where this ability did not yet exist. This time is known as the Paleolithic, or Stone Age. [...] www.wired.co.uk