GIFs reflect 'the atomization of information culture'. Everyone nowadays is multi-tasking and juggling conversations on different devices. GIFs have a pace that fits into frenetic time.
There are three drivers of GIF’s enduring popularity. First, it allows people to quickly express their emotional response when words just won’t do. Second, it conveys a sense of identity on the user’s behalf through the pop culture references it carries. Third, it capitalizes on the meme culture that constantly churns out new references that in turn form our larger digital culture.
A GIF (Graphical Interchange Format) is an image format invented in 1987 by Steve Wilhite, a US software writer who was looking for a way to animate images in the smallest size. In short, GIFs are a series of images or soundless video that will loop continuously and doesn't require to be manually played.
The short, looping aspect of this format provides a perfect snack for the attention span of today's consumers. The average file is 2-5 seconds in length, which makes them perfect for grabbing the eight seconds of attention as you scroll through your social feed.
The saying goes that pictures speak a thousand words. GIFs speak volumes because they're that line between still images and videos. They not only add humor to conversations, but can also be a unique dialect between two specific people. Emoji's communicate very specific things; with GIFs you can add further color to that meaning. A 'thumbs up' emoji is pretty. straight-forward, but a 'thumbs up' GIF can be exciting, sarcastic, reassuring or hesitant, based on the context. Your vocabulary becomes limitless.
GIFs are also self-contained, and go just about anywhere: text messages, social media posts, blog entries, you name it. Lastly, GIFs aren't contained by linguistic boundaries, and are so simple that a child can understand them. It succeeds in restoring the humanizing elements of interpersonal communication to modern communication.