Self-Filtering through Animoji: Performance, Perception, and Interaction

Event Date: 

Monday, July 8, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Event Location: 

  • CITS Conference Room - SSMS 1310

There is a growing availability of technology that allows people to filter and modify their digital self-presentation. This technology includes the recent phenomenon of Animoji on the iPhone X (and later versions), through which users can video chat and send video clips of themselves speaking through large-format emoji that mirror movements of the sender’s head, mouth, eyes, and eyebrows in real time. In addition to popular emoji characters such as poop, unicorn, and robot, Animoji users can create and animate custom human “Memoji” that represent their appearance (or how they wish to appear).

As mask-like alternate personae that can be used to communicate via video, Animoji stand to affect communication and social interaction in ways that are not yet understood. In this talk Dr. Herring presents the results of a recent study of how social media users perform identity in Animoji and Memoji clips through voice quality and vocalization. She also describes (more briefly) two studies in progress of how Animoji are used with, and perceived by, different interlocutors in private and non-humorous contexts. She concludes by situating Animoji in a typology of technologically filtered self-representations that includes Snapchat and Instagram filters, avatars in virtual worlds, holographic representations, and telepresence robots. Dr. Herring will consider their implications for identity play and relationship formation, as well as their potential for deception.

Susan C. Herring is Professor of Information Science and Linguistics and Director of the Center for Computer-Mediated Communication at Indiana University, Bloomington. Since 1991 she has been researching structural, pragmatic, interactional, and social phenomena in communication mediated by digital technologies. Her recent research focuses on multimodal CMC and communication mediated by telepresence robots. A past editor of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, she currently edits the journal Language@Internet.

Dr. Susan Herring