Expert panel discussion @Mozilla Berlin: how emojis impact communication, culture and inclusion

by Alice Fleischmann

Expert panel discussion @Mozilla Berlin: how emojis impact communication, culture and inclusion

by Alice Fleischmann

Emoji are not only core to today’s online communication, they are also on everyone’s lips. The well-known (and popular) visual language is constantly evolving; new images are regularly introduced and provide a topic of conversation in many ways. At the same time, their repertoire is an indicator of societal as well as internet health we shouldn’t underestimat. We’re happy to invite you to the expert panel discussion “Talk Emoji To Me: How digital visual language impacts communication, culture and inclusion” on November 29 at Mozilla Berlin to discuss with us the current status of emoji, their significance for and impact on our analog as well as digital communication, and whatever else you feel should be considered.

Laughing faces, hearts, animals or even food  messengers, browsers and other apps nowadays provide us with countless emoji to help out in almost every situation. They may be used in order to emphasize statements or to communicate without words, since a picture can indeed sometimes express more than words allow us to say. Or we might simply be at a lack of words.

Last year, director Tony Leondis even dedicated an entire animated movie to the tiny visuals, with a global box office of over 200 million USD. Emojis are subject to numerous scientific papers and already made it into the Oxford Words of the Year ranking. Established in the 1980s as Emoticons by Computer Science Professor Scott E. Fahlmann, they are now so ubiquitous in our digital (and sometimes analog) communication that they are understood across generations and cultures  despite the fact that there are now almost 3,000 different emoji, as collected on the Emojipedia.

Thanks to their global comprehensibility, they may contribute to inclusion by not requiring any prior education. They may promote diversity by representing and making visible all cultural groups, large and small, with their own images. And they support participation by giving everyone the opportunity to propose new creations to the Unicode Consortium, which among other things is responsible for the cross-platform implementation of emoji.

And still, the emoji world is not always puppies and kittens: depending on the individual representation of people and groups, they may fire up existing clichés and stereotypes; at the same time, not all people are yet represented equally through emoji. However, as a matter of fact, the selection process for new emoji leaves some questions unanswered: How diverse, for example, is the committee that decides on the implementation of new images to Unicode? Does it decide completely impartially which emoji are actually needed and which are not? Also, even if it does, it’s still up to device manufacturers and software developers to adopt existing emoji for their platforms  there is no obligation here. Do we actually want to lay the further development of our communications in the hands of globally active corporations?

And even if the introduction of new emoji would follow a completely democratic process, not all open questions would be resolved by any means. How do they, for example, influence our language(s)? In real life, do they indeed have such an inclusive effect, and could they maybe contribute to the atrophy of our written languages?

Together with the guests of our English-language expert panel Talk Emoji to me: How digital visual language impacts communication, culture and inclusion we’re going address these questions and would like to invite you to join us in the discussion. We look forward to welcoming you at our Berlin office:

Dr. Tatjana Scheffler, Professor of Computational Linguistics (University of Potsdam)

Daniel Utz, Professor of Communication Design (HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd) & initiator of the OpenMoji project

Judyta Smykowski, Editor & Advisor, &

The panel will be moderated by Solana Larsen, editor of Mozilla’s annual Internet Health Report.


Talk Emoji To Me: How digital visual language impacts communication, culture and inclusion

Expert panel (in English) with public Q&A


Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Doors open at 5:30pm * Panel start at 6pm * Q&A at 6:50pm


Mozilla Berlin

GSG-Hof Schlesische Straße 27, Gebäude 3, 4. Obergeschoss

10997 Berlin

Admission is free

Accessibility: The Mozilla Berlin office is accessible by wheelchair. In the building there are two elevators and a ramp leading to the event space. The office also has a wheelchair-accessible restroom.


Please make sure to register until November 28, 2018 for the event. If you are unable to attend in person, feel free to follow the event via livestream on AirMozilla and on YouTube (no registration needed).

In case of any questions, please feel free to reach out to