Digital Culture

Inventing a term…

For anyone who has spent any time on the web on discussion boards, there is a particular sort of image that pops up occasionally. As far as I know, there is no descriptive term for this type of image, and I think there should be. The images invariably show up during heated/humorous discussion threads, as either a put down or a humerous comment on the thread or a specific comment on it. The images normally have text, sometimes text that is itself a net-witticism or initialism. Mostly these are used for comic effect. They’ve been around a LONG time.

But as far as I know, there’s no word to describe them. We’ve got “emoticon” as a image that is composed of puncuation used as a reminder of emotion behind words, but nothing for these.

So I ask the Interweb: what should these things be called? You need examples? You asked for it:

bunny with pancake on its head
stop talking
no you can't have a pony
panda on a mower

Again, these are normally posted into a discussion thread as a method of communicating humor/anger/other emotion.

So, Interweb…what should these things be called? Imagesmacks? I need to know how to refer to this group of things!

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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