GIFs and Their Evolution as a Language

Who would have guessed that a low-quality, no-sound, 5 second, rotating clip would have captured the attention of the entire internet. GIFs have now been utilized by every single consumer target demographic online, from social media (Facebook) to owned media (Perez Hilton). We all use them, but how many of you know the history? Arguably the first GIF was made by John Woodell, cue dancing baby…

Woodell made this GIF to show his colleagues how the video-to-GIF conversion process worked. Little did he know how much traction it would really get, or what it would start.

Words get boring for a lot of people..[insert emoji revolution]..With the spread of social media and people wanting to express themselves, GIFs took off running. Not only are they a form of expression, but they make being funny easier. At its core, humor is always the reason for using a GIF.

For example, in a conversation you could tell someone “hey, I really like what you said there.” Or you could send this:

GIFs are great for social media. They use way less bandwidth compared to videos, so that makes them easy to share which is what social media is all about. GIFs also remove barriers, and create a much more personal relationship with the content and what’s in it. They are easy to use, and really don’t require a lot of knowledge so anyone can use them. Fellow blogger Casey Chan states that “A good GIF – and anything is GIF-able these days, captures just enough of a specific moment to illustrate emotion yet leaves enough out to spark your curiosity. It’s a beautiful balance of amusement and wonder.” I think it’s safe to say that even after being around all these years GIF’s are a language that will never die.

If you’re interested in making your own GIF check out these resources:

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