The New York Times Explains Why GIFs Are So Popular Right Now

Business Insider

GIFs, the animated image file format, have had a renaissance, becoming quite popular on the web for the last year or so. 

Alex Williams at The New York Times decided to dig in and figure out why the animated files that are almost as old as the web itself have regained popularity.

His theory: Nostalgia.

“For people in their 20s, GIFs are a relic of their childhood, so it makes sense they would come back as a fashion statement — just like ’70s fashion came back in the ’90s, and the ’90s are coming back around now,”Jason Tanz, executive editor of Wired, told Williams.

The GIF format dates back to early days of the Internet in 1987, when ISP CompuServe developed the "graphics interchange format." One of the first most popular GIFs was a dancing baby. Since then, GIFs have matured and have also become easier to make.

GIFs are also helpful in solidifying a point, celebrating good news, and turning news events into short, humorous moments. 

In our humble opinion, it has less to do with nostalgia, and more to do with the functionality of a GIF. A GIF can convey an arch, ironic message, which is what you'll see on Tumblr. But it can also provide a quick video-like format.

A GIF is a better version of web video. There is no pre-roll, or post-roll ad. The format doesn't allow for super long boring video, and you get to watch a loop to see what happened.



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