The Internet’s favorite icon can do much more than decorate a tweet
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Much of the world’s information may now be saved in the virtual cloud, but the first data-storage systems were simple drawings like this: . Humans have been using images to communicate for millennia, since long before written language existed. Emoji, the latest example of that pictorial impulse, have become such a critical part of our hyperconnected exchanges that they are emerging as a dialect all their own.
Named by combining the Japanese words for picture (e-) and character (moji), emoji are the alphanumeric-size graphics that tweeters, texters and emailers around the world are now using thousands of times every second.