Even though I have seen GIFs all over the internet I never really wondered the history behind them. I looked into it and this is what I found! Steve Whilhite created the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) in 1987. The first GIF was made to perform “image transfers across slow modem connections of the time.” Whilhite was working for the company CompuServe that ended up being bought out by AOL in 1998, which resulted with the patents for GIF to expire and so it’s format became open to the public domain. After the patent expired, an artist named Olia Lialina began to create different types of GIFs with the format she experienced the changing of GIFs for 15 years and explained how they have changed over time in three ways. First being, in the 1990s GIFs were basic animation and the backgrounds were transparent so they could be used in different graphical contexts, Lialina herself made an interactive GIF named “My boyfriend came back from the war” http://www.teleportacia.org/war/ If you click the link it brings you to her GIF, you have many different options on where you want to go with the GIF, it is interactive and not what comes to mind in contemporary time for a GIF. The second, is the beginning of the 21st century being “Big, motionless, glittering” GIFs, these were used on social media platforms primarily being Myspace which was very popular around this time. Lastly, she talks about current time being a “looped sequence made from video captures of movies of TV shows”, put in blogs, and other platforms as well. Tumblr was a huge push on the GIF many artists used Tumblr to show their GIFs they had created.
I believe that GIFs are so popular again because this generation does use so many different media platforms we can use GIFs in all different contexts. For example I can be texting my friends and say that I am hungry then send a GIF of pizza, or I can go to twitter and retweet someones tweet of a clip from a movie I like, there are all kinds of places and different way to use GIFs to fit the context of the conversation and it brings a fun visual into it and you can express yourself more than you could by just using words. I personally love GIFs because of how they can be used so many different ways and appreciated by others. I think there is a bit of a generation gap, my parents don’t always get GIFs but considering how old the GIF is maybe they should! My mom, for example, does not have a twitter or Facebook (despite my attempts to get her to make them!) and so she is not exposed to GIFs unless my sister or I send them to her. My dad on the other hand, enjoys social media and is active on both Facebook and Twitter and he enjoys GIFs and will send me them pretty frequently on iMessage. So I think that in some ways there is a generational gap but in others it just depends on how active they are with keeping up with trends and social media.
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