I never really got into YouTube. I can watch TV because it’s easy to keep it in the background, but with online videos I can’t multi-task. They annoy me. Most of them are bad (mine are particularly terrible) and even when the videos are good I find them slow and they are always buffering. ALWAYS bufffffffering. And then, when they finally load I am subject to this all-or-nothing model that doesn’t seem to ever go as fast as I want. What’s even more annoying: I can’t easily skip to a particular point in the video. It’s like listening to cassettes. Yes, cassettes! Remember rewinding the tape or trying to fast forward and then the tape got all messed up? Same thing!
99% of the videos I start watching, I never finish.
On the other hand, if you haven’t heard, animated GIFs are cool. And if you are rolling your eyes, you are old. In an article on the re-birth of animated GIFs, Alex Williams from New York Times quotes Jason Tanz, the executive editor of Wired saying:
“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”
Williams whole argument is that animated GIFs are like vinyl. But, I think Mat Honan from Wired had a better insight in his article Why Vine will be the next big thing:
The very best things we make are the things that allow us to make even better things: tools that create connections and empower creativity.
And I would add one more thing that explains why animated GIFs are a huge trend: You can spend hours just browsing these ‘looped videos’ easily. They are short, they’re always playing, and the stuff people are doing is quite amazing!
Now, to the battle of who will be the YouTube or Instagram of animated GIFs. There are so many apps already! I’ve been playing with GifBoom (I feel ancient looking at other users) and Vine* (thankfully the median age is closer to mine) and they are pretty fun and easy to use. However, most of these apps have trouble enabling embedding, sharing and attributing. For example, to embed the Vine video below, I had to look up some work-around because WP.com doesn’t recognize iframes. All the other animated GIFs in this post were just downloaded and uploaded, a process that made me forget to record where I got them from.
Spamming Vine with baby vids vine.co/v/bvZ0XYUXV9m
— Adriana Gil Miner (@agilminer) February 9, 2013
So before too many evil marketers like me figure out how to use animated GIFs to sell you more stuff (see nice example below from CINEgif), come explore the non-buffering world of really short looped videos and be amazed on what constraints can result in. Once you see, you’ll never go back…to YouTube.
*Ok, Vine is technically not an animated gif, but it can kind of work like one.