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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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “When deciding what products to buy, what’s most valuable to me is reviews from users regardless of whether or not I know them.”—Female, 32, MA

Adidas is continuing to take customization to the next level, with a new pop-up store that creates custom clothes in a majorly futuristic way. Knit For You, located in Berlin uses a laser body scanner to determine exact measurements for their personalized merino wool sweaters. To select their design, shoppers go into a dark room where patterns that can be adjusted with hand gestures are projected on their chests. The final chosen product is then knitted, washed, and dried in-store to be picked up in hours, for the price of $215. (Business Insider

BuzzFeed’s wildly popular food platform Tasty is expanding into the coffee business. In a partnership with NBCUniversal, Tasty has begun selling Brooklyn Roasting Company coffee beans, and of course, they’re “offer[ing] a quiz to help with decision making.” Quiz-takers will be asked about their favorite fruit, how they feel about caffeine, what their ideal morning is like, and more, to which they can answer with emojis. Once the coffee choice is made, consumers can make it even more personal by creating their own labels. (Grub Street)  

Chinese Millennials are using digital devices for “connection, discovery and actualization,” more often than their American counterparts. A recent global survey from Labbrand found that 85% of Chinese Millennials are using their phones to make in-store payments on a weekly basis, compared to 44% of U.S. Millennials. They’re also more likely to broadcast their behavior online: Over seven in ten Chinese Millennials are posting movie, restaurant, travel, and other activity-related reviews weekly and over half say they share everything they do online, compared to 44% and 28% of U.S. Millennials respectively. (ReadITQuik

What cities are Millennial homebuyers flocking to? According to an analysis by LendingTree, the top three are Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Des Moines, Iowa—based on mortgage requests by those 35 and under. The online loan company says that on average 36.1% of all their mortgage requests came from the age group, a slight increase from the year before, which they say is “thanks to a stronger jobs market and overall economy.” They expect to see more young buyers looking for homes as financial situations keep improving. (Yahoo FinanceCredit.com

YouTube is being criticized for filtering LGBTQ content. Recently, YouTube creators have discovered that some content featuring LGBTQ titles and themes are being filtered when users enable “Restricted Mode” to screen out “potentially objectionable content.” YouTuber Neon Fiona pointed to her own page as evidence, citing that videos with “girlfriend” in the title were filtered under the mode, but videos with “boyfriend” in the title were not. Not all LGBTQ content is filtered and one YouTuber observes, “This is something that no one’s really sure how it’s working.” (Tubefilter

Quote of the Day: “When I was watching the Super Bowl, I switched the channel or left the room when it was a commercial break.”—Male, 27, MN

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