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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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “The best way for brands to interact with my fandom is by watching the series itself and making references only true fans would know.”—Male, 24, CA

There’s a new rosé for the Millennial bro—a "brosé" if you will. Mangrove Estates’s The Drop, named after the surfer term for breaking waves, comes, of course, in a can, and sports the tagline "Quality grapage, no breakage." The brand designed the product with Millennials in mind: "We wanted a tagline that would sum up the way this brand behaves, not just as a wine but in life, embracing all the good stuff and none of the compromise, exactly what Millennials expect." The Drop will be available for bros to drink this summer. (Adweek

Daaaaamn Ellen! Ellen DeGeneres is expanding her empire to include her own digital network with original programming. The Ellen Digital Network will create content across multiple platforms and collaborate with YouTube celebrity Tyler Oakley, and the two teens from the viral “Damn Daniel” video. It will also star Brielle, a four-year-old viral sensation, and include the best user-generated content from EllenTube. DeGeneres is already a digital powerhouse, with more than 1.1 billion total cross-platform views, and averaging 300 million views monthly on YouTube. (Mashable

The rise of “home-tainment,” is encouraging Millennials to skip the bars and stay in to drink. A recent survey from wine app Vivino found that 47% of Millennials would rather drink wine at home than at social gatherings, restaurants, or wineries—and with access to online streaming, food delivery, and dating apps from the comfort of their couches, why wouldn’t they? Another factor to the growth of home socializing may be their wallets: almost six out of 10 Millennials say that cost outweighs all other influences when deciding what to drink. (Business Insider

Hulu has a new competitor in its sights: cable. At the NewFronts, the streaming service announced they’re focusing in on the 70% of Hulu users that watch their service on smart and connected TV devices by providing more premium content and children’s programming. But the big news is that they’ll be going head to head with cable by 2017, offering live sports, event coverage, and news programming for the first time. Hulu’s subscriber count grew by 33% last year, and our latestmedia tracker revealed that 28% of 13-33-year-olds are using Hulu to watch video content weekly or more often. (Kidscreen

We recently noted that VR has the potential to impact many more industries beyond gaming, including entertainment, and live concerts are next to get the VR treatment. Live Nation has scored a deal with NextVR to broadcast hundreds of future concerts, from “intimate performances to very large music festivals,” through VR headsets. Although it will lack the ambiance of crowds, the technology will allow participants to feel as if they were in the front row and truly experiencing the music. For now, the experiences will be limited to free events, but eventually they hope it will be pay-per-view. (Re/code

Quote of the Day: “Whenever I'm bored, I can always find something to do on my phone.”

—Male, 17, GA

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