fyi [links, jan 2017]

Some more or less recent stuff, focussed on GIFs. Or other web animations. Or something else loosely connected to that.

It has become quiet around here and I apologise for that. But during the last weeks we really didn’t have many GIF news, so this time there is only a short link list:

As announced on this blog, there was a GIF conference in Bologna in the end of November. You can find video recordings of some of the presentations on this site. I hope to find the time to write reviews for some talks that are not available as recordings.

Peeqo is a personal desktop robotic assistant who expresses himself through GIFs.“ There is also a gallery that documents the engineering process. [Thanks to Timo for the link]

The Democratic Party Needs to Stop Using Reaction Gifs“ – A short comment that focusses on meme use by the US democrats, but can actually be seen as a more general advice for any large institution or company: Garnishing their posts on social media with GIFs isn’t necessarily a good idea, just because it’s trendy or all the other users are doing it.

This paper introduces a novel approach for generating GIFs called Synchronized Deep Recurrent Attentive Writer (Sync-DRAW).“


fyi [links, nov 2016]

Some more or less recent stuff, focussed on GIFs. Or other web animations. Or something else loosely connected to that.

There will be a conference about “The New Imageries of GIF Culture”, 24 – 25 November 2016 in Bologna. I know this is on very short notice, but I also just read about it a week or so ago. Luckily, the organisers will provide live streaming of the presentations. If you can’t get enough of GIF research, check out their bibliography.

GIFilter“ is a university project that analysed the main GIF design paradigms and presents the outcome with a poster series.

As neural networks lately are applied to, well, everything, it was only a matter of time until someone develops a GIF search engine on the basis of deep learning and here it is: DeepGIF.

Tom Moody comments on a GIF animation history article and points out a crucial point about Giphy that I can very much relate to:
”Once GIFs have a reliable central location where they can be created, stored, and tweaked, people will stop saving them to their individual devices. Then, the GIF as a free-floating entity will finally shrivel up and die — there will only be Giphy.“

Vine is shutting down. Here we see what could happen to any proprietary piece of software – no matter how popular or important for web culture, it can be discontinued at any time. GIFs however, are not bound to a certain service (yet – despite all the effort Giphy is putting into its GIF domination;) so their fortune mainly depends on the users themselves.

And finally here are three academic papers about GIFs, the latter two of which I haven’t had the time to read entirely yet. But I’m sure that you are able to comprehend them yourselves:)

Gürsimsek, Ödül Akyapi (2016): ”Animated GIFs as vernacular graphic design: producing Tumblr blogs
The author focusses on GIFs related to the series ”Lost“ and how they are appropriated by Tumblr users. She draws some interesting conclusions, including a handy definition of GIF literacy: “GIF literacy is the ability to remediate televisual performance into social cues to be used in vernacular digital communication. This is coupled with the literacy of using image editing software.” (p.347)

Chiarini, Alessandra (2016): ”The Multiplicity of the Loop: The Dialectics of Stillness and Movement in the Cinemagraph

Gygli, Michael; Soleymani, Mohammad (2016): ”Analyzing and Predicting GIF Interestingness

fyi [links, oct 2016]

Some more or less recent stuff, focussed on GIFs. Or other web animations. Or something else loosely connected to that.

Only a few days are left to take part in the Digital Public Library of America’s „GIF it up“ competition! Everyone can take part and create animations based upon archive material that is under public domain oder Creative Commons license.

Explore some GIF culture history with the GeoCities GIF search engine, made by the Internet Archive.

Wired reflects about how the definition of GIFs changes/broadens, especially in the field of art.

Have you read one of the many articles stating that using GIFs on Tinder increases your chances there? I haven’t linked to them yet, because I tried to find the source of this news bit and I assumed that there might be an article or any other documentation of a study that has been conducted by Tinder itself. Sadly, that’s not the case. The whole thing seems to be based on an interview via email between and Tinder’s own sociologist Jess Carbino. Here you can find the corresponding article from where everyone else got the information.

This article inspects the source of a well-known dumpster fire, often used in GIF form. It is always nice to read/hear/watch the background story of a certain (famous) GIF. This points out the way GIFs can be used pars pro toto: A short moving image works nicely as a communication tool, symbol or metaphor in a broad variety of situations, despite its origins in a very specific context. Actually, any Reaction GIF is also a good example for that.

If you like this kind of small background info pieces on single GIF examples, I can recommend the „GIF of the day“ section on ArtFCity. The archive reaches back quiet far.

We have seen it many times, that leagues and other sport organisations tried to get rid of GIFs – the Olympic Games 2016 being the most recent and noteworthy instance. Fans of American Football will witness the impact of this issue, as the NFL forbids its teams to use live streaming and GIFs themselves during games, threatening with hefty fines.

If you have read other stuff on this blog, you might know that I am very critical of Giphy’s GIF-world domination ambitions. And they are not even reserved about it. So, just for documentation purposes, here is their summarisation of their accomplishments.

fyi [links, sep 2016]

Some more or less recent stuff, focussed on GIFs. Or other web animations. Or something else loosely connected to that.

Checking Patriarchy and Dogma Through the Art of the GIF

I am astonished that, from time to time, there are still articles about the pronunciation debate that are worth linking to, because they add a new aspect. In this case we find some socio-linguistic and media-theoretical background, which makes us wonder we we even bother.

When reading about the Olympic games and GIFs during August, it probably wasn’t about short clips of the athletes, but rather about the fact that the IOC has forbidden to publish content from the event in form of GIFs or similar animations for its media partners.
Here you can see how people on Twitter reacted to that restriction. And here we have two commentaries on that issue, one from a PR perspective and another from the viewer perspective.

While the IOC seems to see only negative sides of GIFs, other praise them as marketing tools. Here is an analysis of the economic value of GIFs for marketing business innovation buzzword buzzword blah asdbhb qwebkh profit! … Jokes aside – this article is merely one example of how GIFs and other web animations are seen as a tool for strategic communications/PR. We’ve seen this for years now and it’s increasing, of course. So I thought a quick reminder like this would be nice to keep in mind that our cultural goods are open to everyone, even if this might turn out to be annoying.

You might know /r/behindthegifs, but I wasn’t aware of the web comic „Behind the GIFs“ by Andy C. Stuart. And I thought I could put some more amusing stuff into this link list, not only rants about GIFs being taken over by companies and so on :)

Gfycat has a short note about their GIF URL naming conventions that, in one case, even turned into a GIF-naming recursion.

Why not tell the history of GIFs as a fairy tale? Kenyatta Cheese did that, as you can watch here or read here.

fyi [links, jul 2016]

Some more or less recent stuff, focussed on GIFs. Or other web animations. Or something else loosely connected to that.

PBS Idea Channel: ”Every argument for pronouncing GIF is wrong and that’s okay.

GIF art time! A directional microphone sends the recorded content to a Raspberry Pi, that transforms it into a key word search on Giphy and then shows the results as a 3×3-matrix on a screen.

ArtFCity about, a website full of GIFs from pages that are blocked by the „Great Chinese Firewall“.

Whatsapp seems to include GIF support in a new release. Well, it was only a matter of time, but it is actually rather late, isn’t it?

Minimaxir (I will come back to his Reddit analytics in an upcoming article) presents a method for ”Unlimited Data Storage Using Image Steganography and Cat GIFs“ – which is, of course, a joke.

fyi [links, jun 2016]

Some more or less recent stuff, focussed on GIFs. Or other web animations. Or something else loosely connected to that.

The author of this article takes the position that ”standard“ GIFs included in GIF-libraries should not be used. Staple GIFs that can be found via key word search are convenient on one hand, but on the other hand rather arbitrary and may lack the personal note.

Here we have a short article portrait about a spanish artist, including some of his thought of GIFs in the context of art, social commentary and different audience groups for modern art.

Last month I haven’t found that many links. As a small compensation, here are two links to older podcast episodes about some aspects of GIF culture:

About two years ago, Tyler Menzel from Giphy was a guest at the sideshow podcast. (MP3)

Last summer, the Teen Screen Feminism Podcast had an episode about ”shipping“ – fan fiction and GIFs in that context. (MP3)

fyi [links, may 2016]

Some more or less recent stuff, focussed on GIFs. Or other web animations. Or something else loosely connected to that.

TGIF: A New Dataset and Benchmark on Animated GIF Description
More GIF science, hooray! This paper examines techniques for automatic GIF description. Two side notes: The authors see this as (only?) one step towards automatic video description. And this research was supported by Yahoo (and others) – might Flickr plan some new GIF features?

At first I wondered why I found so many articles about GIFs during the last weeks, but then I quickly became bored of the many mentions of Giphy. They apparently are on promotion tour to pursue their wet dream of total GIF domination – sadly I’m not joking.

Here is one of many recent portraits of how Giphy emerged, peppered with some context from the current situation of GIF culture. The following quote points out the most important observation: ”If Giphy succeeds, it could represent a massive shift in the way GIFs are produced and shared, effectively moving GIFs from a mostly bottom-up expression of the Internet counterculture to a mostly top-down product led by the marketing agendas of big media companies and brands.“

How the GIF Is Taking Over the World“ – Seriously, can nobody talk about GIFs without drowning in superlatives anymore? Anyway, this is one of these articles that sums up GIF trends from the last year or so and I actually only link to it because of this: “That interactive future for photography is not yet here, but GIFs are perhaps the harbingers of what’s the come.“ Well then, bring it on:)

From Zoetrope to GIF and back
This article follows the traces of Zoetrope-like artefacts in the GIF-dominated world of animations nowadays.

Twitter’s ‘GIF Party’ Is Just a Sneaky Way for the Site to Promote Itself“ – The headline raises hopes for a critical media analysis, but after a short introduction the author presents… a list of his favourite GIFs from Twitter. m( Or should we rather call it Videos?

MEMEWARS: of gif campaigns and gamer politics“ was a short talk at the re:publica about the approach to use visual communication for political activism and what effects have to be concerned when trying to do that.

In the first 20 minutes of this ”Reply All“ podcast episode, you can hear the well researched story about the old GIF website Animation Plaza, that was full of obscure GIFs.

This last link is a German article that contains one aspect I’d like to mention here. German scholar Daniela Wentz, who was interviewed for this article, describes the ”Distinktionskraft“ of GIFs (one might translate it as distinction potency). By comparing GIFs to emoji, she highlights how the enormous variety of GIFs may give you an exact expression for a very specific emotion. This way, GIFs include very fine nuances that go far beyond a rather simple smiley. Of course, we all knew that, but it’s nice to have an analytical term for it.