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Thursday, December 23, 2010

In Praise of .GIFs

Posted by on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 1:47 PM

GIFs are the new YouTube. Even though .GIFs have been around for a lot longer than YouTube, it's true. You know it's true. Why would you bother watching a full eighteen seconds of a video of a Stormtrooper hitting his head when you could just watch the moment of impact over and over again*? If pundits declared YouTube to be the end of our attention spans, I can't even imagine what they have to say about .GIFs, but I'm too busy watching .GIFs to care. I spend more time at Senor Gif than at YouTube on any given week; it delivers all the head trauma and amazing pet clips with none of the waiting for the extraneous video to pass by or sitting through advertisements.

But it wasn't until I discovered If We Don't, Remember Me that I realized .GIFs can be a medium of artistic expression. The movie clips are mostly still; if you're not paying attention, you'd think they were large .JPEGs. But there's always some kind of moment (usually a very, very tiny movement) to throw you off. It's just enough to make the Gif into a window pane, a view into another world, a mirror with a flutter of supernatural movement in the reflection.


.GIFs bring new life to the internet, an irrepressible, amoebic life, completing simple functions again and again. You can keep your Hulu; I know where my allegiances lie.

* Most would consider the lack of sound to be a problem with .GIFs, but it's also kind of appealing. They're jittery, silent markers of a short stretch of time, like old movies. They're like fossils from a prehistoric internet of the 1930s that never existed. If they somehow had sound attached, they'd lose all of their charm.


Comments (26) RSS

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Joe Szilagyi 1
One thing I've always visually loved on a good animated gif is the disconnect between static elements and motion, like the rain on this one.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on December 23, 2010 at 1:54 PM · Report this
despicable me 2
Wow, that is equally cool and creepy at the same time.
Posted by despicable me on December 23, 2010 at 1:54 PM · Report this
I'm 85 Years Old 3
Posted by I'm 85 Years Old on December 23, 2010 at 1:57 PM · Report this

Posted by balmonter on December 23, 2010 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Posted by Josh Bomb on December 23, 2010 at 2:02 PM · Report this
David Schmader 6
I love this post.
Posted by David Schmader on December 23, 2010 at 2:05 PM · Report this
tallchris 7
Based on the first five or so pages, this guy only likes about 5 movies/directors.
Posted by tallchris on December 23, 2010 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Fnarf 8
I agree, animated gifs are much better than videos for most things. And the absence of sound is a big reason why. It's usually just some indistinct yelling, or a horrible pop song dubbed on. Nothing like clicking on a funny link at an insomniac 3 AM and having music start booming out.
Posted by Fnarf on December 23, 2010 at 2:16 PM · Report this
Paul, if you haven't yet, you should dump the weird_gif livejournal community into your RSS reader. Although I haven't bothered with seƱor gif yet, and reposts are endemic to the whole .gif biz...…
Posted by RL is too lazy to log in on December 23, 2010 at 2:28 PM · Report this
@8 And if you want sound, there's always ytmnd.
Posted by kersy on December 23, 2010 at 2:48 PM · Report this
I'm so confused. YouTube used to be the new Kazaa, which used to be the new .GIFs.
Posted by Angry Sam on December 23, 2010 at 2:53 PM · Report this
Yeah, I'm with @9. Has Paul come out of a time machine from 10 years ago?
Posted by Max Power on December 23, 2010 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Simone 13
I like .gifs. The lack of sound and that they don't tax my old powerbook like annoying flash animations do or used to do until I installed an application for Safari that blocked all flash.
Posted by Simone on December 23, 2010 at 3:09 PM · Report this
aardvark 14
paul this post is a little bit lame. where are the editors around here?
Posted by aardvark on December 23, 2010 at 3:36 PM · Report this
Posted by sven forkbeard on December 23, 2010 at 4:00 PM · Report this
Dee 16
Since I joined Tumblr, I've created a subfolder in my pictures file just for gifs. They're so charmingly succinct.
Posted by Dee on December 23, 2010 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Chip 17
The thing about gifs is that they only support a 256 color palette, so they end up looking exceedingly ugly.

Also, they seem to tax my non-windows browsers due to crappy libraries or something.

I really wish png had implemented animations in the main spec.
Posted by Chip on December 23, 2010 at 6:07 PM · Report this
Asparagus! 18
Wow. Paul post another clueless time warp trend prediction.
Posted by Asparagus! on December 23, 2010 at 6:23 PM · Report this
Fox in Socks 19
I've told my browser to block animated gifs since 2004. It's those idiotic forum emoticons-for-the-literal-minded I can't bear.
Posted by Fox in Socks on December 23, 2010 at 7:25 PM · Report this
foolish-rain 20
AND they are the illustration of choice for the Wizarding paper, The Daily Prophet.
Posted by foolish-rain on December 23, 2010 at 9:13 PM · Report this
despicable me 21
You guys have no idea how far over my head you're talking with all this stuff. I thought this was kinda cool until I read some of the comments, so it shows you how tech-unsaavy I am. Lets see, I can log into SLOG, copy and paste (well most stuff, but I don't know how to attach a picture or put a box around a comment), with some help I was able to upload an avatar, and I can usually edit, preview and post comments although sometimes all or part of the comment falls off. Oh, and I can send a text message in a pinch as long as it's going to a phone number, but I don't know how to do those "text COCK to 22822" things. I was going to have my 3-1/2 year old niece and nephew teach me how to do the text thing (not the COCK one) but the last time my niece saw my cell phone she pointed and said "WHAT IS THAT?" So maybe not.
Posted by despicable me on December 23, 2010 at 9:24 PM · Report this
venomlash 22
The only problem with GIFs is that they allow some wiseass to drop one that initially appears to be static into an advice thread on a forum somewhere, and then something jumps out at you and scares you shitless. I've learned my lesson; I always check the file extension before opening.
There are some excellent GIFs, though. Like this.
Posted by venomlash on December 23, 2010 at 10:23 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 23
josh bomb @5, i only had yours up for a second - i got too scared that something awful was gonna leap out of that shower. does that happen?
Posted by mr. herriman on December 23, 2010 at 11:53 PM · Report this
Speaking of gifs
Posted by random poster on December 24, 2010 at 12:45 PM · Report this
Josh Bomb 25
@23 nope, it fools you into waiting for the live feed that never ever ever happens.
Posted by Josh Bomb on December 27, 2010 at 9:46 AM · Report this
Dee 26
@22- Well played.
Posted by Dee on December 27, 2010 at 2:59 PM · Report this

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