Peer Review – Briana Wallace: Modern Hieroglyphic

During the course of the semester, I have been following the development and application of Briana Wallace’s digital artefact ‘Modern Hieroglyphic’.

Originally named ’emoji-glyph’, the artefact conceptualises the ever-changing emoji language and aims to make sense of this newly found digital language. The project was designed around the premise of creating a universal emoji dictionary to reduce/stop misinterpretations whilst using emojis in everyday conversations. Originally, Briana’s artefact focused on a theoretical and experimental approach by testing the viability of emojis as a standalone language. This would eventually lead to the creation of a blog showing the results of the experimentation as well as a space to display universal meanings for the most commonly used emojis.

“The understanding that we have from theory suggests that people build shared meaning of communication and interaction over time… People are building up their new norms within a group of friends or within a geographic region or perhaps even within a culture and those things may start to even out over time.”

– Jacob Thebault-Spieker

Briana has referred to the statement above in relation to the direction of her project to understand the social norms of the emoji language. Although her audience is yet to be established and clearly clarified, I feel I fit into the younger demographic of the audience she wishes to target: those who use emojis as a stand-alone language on select occasions but also have trouble deciphering what they actually mean through single use or mixed into online communication.

The initial social utility of this project was to contribute to the growing landscape of the emoji language and create a universal understanding for each emoji. However, this project has been through a series of iterations throughout the semester, redefining the broad concept that was initially pitched at the beginning of the semester. It was a common belief that the topic Briana wished to explore was quite broad and needed to be narrowed down and possibly redirected to group together with other forms of digital language, such as gifs, that were also commonly used by her audience. This was suggested to make her project standout against the other websites that were already established.

The direction of the utility of the project was the first to change course. Briana’s artefact has now become an archive of emojis and gifs that relate to a single emotion or phrases, making the aim of the project to break down confusion often found when using emojis within our online communication.

I witnessed many reiterations of this project as it morphed towards the creation of a site to categories emojis and gifs based on emotions and commonly used phrases. Keeping the element of experimentation alive, Briana wished to document her experiences and results of messaging only in emojis and gifs. However, I did mention to Briana that this experimentation, though viable, would be biased towards the small circle of friends and family she conducted the experiment with. She decided to simplify the project to just consist of a categorisation of emojis and gifs reflecting common emotions and phrases.


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Emojis and gifs categorised by emotion.


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Throughout my experience with Briana’s artefact I have witnessed a stop and start process in her ability to get the project up and running. Particularly with the set-up of her website, it has taken her a fair amount of time to find a domain that would support her content without causing issues for her and her users. She started by using Weebly but quickly found that the site would not support emojis, which was vital to her project. She finally came across Wix, which has allowed her to publish a site close to what she imagined it to look like. It effectively displays her content in an engaging, collective and organised way making it easy to navigate and find content that related to the needs and wants of the audience. The only criticism I would make here is about her process; I would have liked to see the FEFO (fail early, fail often) approach to gain a clearer understanding of her methodology and how she had gone about the issues she encountered and how they were overcome.


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Modern Hieroglyphic homepage.


However, after witnessing her seminar curation, the methodology for ‘Modern Hieroglyphic’ was made evident. She used the time to gather information from the class about what emojis and gifs they use to convey different emotions and phrases. This was a good way to get started but I did find it to be a little limiting, as there was no input from anyone outside of our class. I think Briana could have posted the Google doc on various university forums or on Twitter to gather a wider range of data from other people and other backgrounds to see what types of emojis and gifs they use for different situations.

Briana’s BETA presentation highlighted struggles she was facing whilst putting together her artefact and effectively outlined the steps she had taken towards the new approach for her project. Briana used the feedback from her pitch and seminar curation to manipulate the direction of her artefact, making it more focused on the content needed and wanted by her audience. As ‘Modern Hieroglyphic’ has not been publicly published, we are unable to gauge the extent of its full utility, reach or how her audience has responded to the content. I would definitely recommend publishing the site and monitoring the traction from the site. This will give Briana an idea as to what works and what needs improving or changing.

Overall, I think ‘Modern Hieroglyphic’ has great potential of becoming a frequently used site for people to understand what emojis and gifs work for certain situations. As well as expanding the idea to include the various meanings found with emojis and gifs relating to other countries and cultures. I look forward to seeing what else Briana can do with ‘Modern Hieroglyphic’ and wish to incorporate it into my online communication.


Hidden Truths – Episode 2

This episode looks into the case of Edward Snowden and the processes you can use to stay safe and secure while online.

Here are is some extra information you can use to help you understand the ways to keep private online:
Computerphile: Hashing Algorithms and Security –
Computerphile: SHA: Secure Hashing Algorithm –
Mashable: What is Encryption and How Does it Work –
The Verge: Chinese scientists have built the first quantum satellite network-
The Best VPN Services of 2017 –
How to Choose The Best VPN In Australia –