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, 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.

fyi [links, aug 2015]

On Repeat – How to use loops to explain anything
The article presents some thoughts about why we are fascinated by (GIF) loops and how we might use them for various purposes aside from meme culture.

A Wired article about Tumblr TV, where you can watch a stream of GIFs as if it was TV.

Don’t dismiss the GIF
How to use GIFs for data visualisation

Some guys from Harvard introduced a GIF player that works on-click and not only shows the GIF, but also links to the video source, the creator and has buttons for turning sound on/off and other options. In fact, it is an embedded video player, that also only works with JavaScript. I wouldn’t call that GIF anymore.

In preparation for the 4chan-GIF-WebM study I am still working on (yes, I know that I promised to publish it for a while now:) I found some data about GIF scoring on Reddit: in comparison with other file formats; a chronological overview since 2010; and in comparison between several Subreddits

And some videos:

The things we can’t say in selfies -– narrating the self through GPOY, reaction-GIF and ‘current status’ images” (here is part 2)
A conference presentation at the “Internet Research 15” conference, also available as a paper on

The Making-Of Insa’s GIFitti from Space

fyi [links, jun 2015]

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

First of all: You may wonder why certain links appear in this list, although the stories have been in the news days or weeks ago. For a simple reason: I don’t treat this monthly link collection as news ticker, but rather as a continuous “timeline” of how GIF culture is developing – including everything I find relevant: art projects, new GIF-related features on websites, research, commentaries and whatever else. And of course, if you have suggestions or think something is missing in these link lists, please feel free to add it in the comments or contact me.

Tumblr introduced their new GIF search feature
They say: “This might be a little crazy. This will definitely be fun.” One could also say it was totally overdue.

And not long before that: “Facebook Confirms It Will Officially Support GIFs

YouTube answered a The Daily Dot’s journalist’s request with an animated GIF and nothing else. In my opinion, this is even better than “no comment”, because it leaves the journalist amusingly clueless about what the expression of the GIF actually means. Great trolling. And a nice specimen for how the ambiguity of GIFs is their strenght but also the reason why they won’t replace words, just as I wrote about earlier.

Here is an insight to Chinese (Taiwanese, to be specific) research about GIFs: “Video (GIF) Sentiment Analysis using Large-Scale Mid-Level Ontology
Cai, Cao & Ji from Xiamen University assembled a huge database of animated GIFs and developed a framework to analyse emotions that are depicted in GIFs. The framework is called “GIF Sentiment Ontology (GSO)”. This kind of reminds me of the GIFGIF project, but with a different approach. I am curious to see if and how much these two collections from different cultures (GIFGIF and GSO) differ, regarding content, “genres” and other aspects of GIFs. Unfortunately I couldn’t find their promised-to-be-published database and they did not even state the source of the GIFs, only “from one of the most
popular micro-blog provider”.
side note: I was a little surprised to see GIFs being called “GIF videos” by Cai For me this is a rather unsusual designation – but it is actually quite honest. This study, as well as GIFGIF, handles GIFs as videos. I think they underestimate the impact of the loop, which is not mentioned at all. At least one aspect that is crucial to understand the distinctiveness of GIF culture is mentioned, but only as a problem – additional text: “The most common (around 34.49%) noise is explanative texts. They can reverse  the  GIF  sentiment.” Maybe it’s not noise, but a feature, perhaps even a vital one?

Finally, here is the Daily-Prophet-Moving-Image-Analogy I was waiting for. At least kind of. As Business Insider reports, the video autoplay feature on Facebook was inspired by the moving images on the newspaper from the Harry Potter storys. Well, I would have done it with GIFs or APNGs, but nobody asks me, of course:)