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Animated Gifs: The Politics Of File Formats In Social Media And SEO

Paddy Johnson questions the resurgence of animated gifs.

Lisa Baldini
Lisa Baldini on November 26, 2010.

Paddy Johnson recently made an astute correlation between the recent resurgence of the popularity of the animated gifs in net art as well as user-generated practices and their possible disappearance out of the web:

2010 is the year of the animated gif.  They are everywhere. Tumblr’s Three Frames, a site that posts only gifs drawn from movies on a daily basis is recommended to me by students virtually every time I give a lecture. Fuck Yeah Gifs, and Gif Party are also popular. Images on group artist-run blogs like Nasty Nets and Spirit Surfers have always had a keen interest in the file format and have custom software to better display them. No one does the job better than Dump.fm on the image platform front though, which likely explains the frantic production amongst their users.

She goes on to further explain:

Facebook never allowed gifs, and tumblr and WordPress can’t handle large gifs or display them well. It’s not difficult to make the argument that artists who use the web as source material need sites that are friendly to the file format.

While Johnson notes in the end notes that Google has not phased out gifs completely, jpeg formats figure high in an Internet media’s search capabilities and the file formats handled in social media. Such occurrences speaks to certain privileges endemic to the infrastructures of the technology we use and ultimately our abilities to express ourselves.

The question, then, arises: what are the effects created by these implacable and impliable digital infrastructures that allow for ease of conversation and search?

Paddy Johnson: The Year of The Animated Gif

TOPICS: Arts & Culture, Web & Technology
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Lisa Baldini

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Lisa Baldini is a regular contributor to PSFK.com. As a student of Graham Harwood, Luciana Parisi, and Matthew Fuller, Lisa's interest in technology lies in how culture is changed from the bottom up through history, materiality, databases, user experience, and affective computing. A student of social media marketing, she sees how people try to engage consumers through technology and how much failure is at hand by misunderstanding the medium. A teacher at heart, she writes and curates in an effort to link the knowledge derived between the academic, art, and business worlds.

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