Why GIFs Became the Sweetheart of the Internet

 

Is it too early to crown the GIF the internet star of 2013? Though the format has been in use since the early days of websites, there has been a proliferation of GIF use among young consumers of late that has pushed the once lowly image file into the spotlight. What is it about the GIF format that has captured the hearts of hoards of Tumblr users, internet commenters, and viral bloggers?

For readers who aren’t familiar with the GIF, they are short, endlessly-looped video files that appear to play a few seconds of action on eternal replay. The New Republic wrote an extensive history of the medium and its rise from 90s junk animation to art form. Today, GIFs have become an integral part of the way internet users (often led by Gen Y) talk to one another. They appear as reactions to blog articles, are created and shared by fan communities on Tumblr and elsewhere to celebrate moments in TV and movies, are emailed as exclamations and emotional outbursts. In short, they have become the second language of the internet.

So why GIFs, and why now? Millennials, always a very image-reliant generation, have continued to gravitate towards visual communication. With the strengthening popularity of Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and Snapchat, we could almost see them reaching a tipping point where visuals actually usurp text communication in common use. When you are a group who communicates by majority in visuals, those visuals have to evolve in order to fully capture the emotion you are trying to convey. (We saw a similar evolution in the simple emoticon, which began as a finite combination of punctuations and have become a legion of animated faces and objects stored on your phone for easy access and hieroglyphic-esque messaging.) Layer on top of this the fact that Millennials have also…

 
 

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Quote of the Day: “Political correctness is a two-way street of respect and telling the truth.”—Female, 17, WI

One teacher has declared war on homework. A note that has gone viral on Facebook and Reddit outlines a teacher’s new policy that homework will be limited to the work that students did not complete during the school day. They explain, “Research had been unable to prove that homework improves student performance, Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eating dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.” Schools in Massachusetts have also adopted a “no homework” policy, signifying the start of a larger trend. (Mashable

Adidas is winning out with young consumers of all ages in China. According to RTG Consulting Group’s brand relevance report, Chinese Millennials and teens agree on similar brands as the most relevant in the apparel and footwear industry. Adidas came in first for both groups, for its products and social media strategy, and Zara, Uniqlo, and Nike followed. The least relevant fashion brand was H&M for Millennials, and Converse for teens. (Sourcing Journal

Game developer Blizzard is using the Broken Windows Theory—the idea that disorder breeds more disorder—in its war with cyber bullying. For its team-based shooter game Overwatch, Blizzard has implemented a chatbot to keep an eye out for negative phrases and turn them into “charming, self-effacing statements.” For example, “gg ez,” a commonly used phrase to let opponents know that victory was too easy, is automatically turned into phrases like "I'm wrestling with some insecurity issues in my life but thank you all for playing with me." The developer hopes that by hiding toxic behaviors, others won’t be encouraged to do the same. (Motherboard

Millennials are more likely than Boomers to marry someone with a different approach to finances. A recent TD Ameritrade survey asked respondents to categorize themselves as either savers or as spenders, and found that although more than half of Millennials and Boomers agree that savers being married to savers prevents financial disagreements in a marriage, 66% of Boomer savers are married to other savers, compared to 52% of Millennial savers. The younger generation is also more comfortable with it: only 23% of Millennial savers said they wouldn’t be happy with a spender, versus 40% of Boomers. (Investor’s Business Daily

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, schools should be teaching coding as a second language. Computer programming been shown to help “kids see the world algorithmically, in patterns, and in cause and effect,” and some experts say coding education is crucial for kids to stay competitive. Although the youth of North America are well versed in Snapchat and YouTube language, one media theorist argues: "Unless kids understand how [the platforms they use] ­­are created…they're at a disadvantage to those who do know how to build and take apart these platforms." In the British Columbia province of Canada, students will soon be required to take coding from Grades 6-9. (CBC News)

Quote of the Day: “I follow the news because it’s there and I can't avoid it.”—Female, 28, ME

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