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Steve Carell noooooooo GIF

Animated GIFs

May 1, 2021 | Trends

Propelled by social media users, animated GIFs (pronounced “gift” without the “T”) have made a big comeback. Who would have thought that a technology developed by CompuServe in 1987 would still be relevant today?

Like memes, GIFs are often humorous takes on a great variety of topics, as GIPHY, the default search engine for GIFs, shows. Here’s why GIFs have caught on:

  • Simple video – Unlike videos, GIFs are easy to create, with many new GIF-making tools now available. For the Mac, we like Gifsky a free GIF-making tool authored by the developer of ImageOptim, and, which charges $2/mo. to create two GIFs.
  • Visual humor – The internet has ushered in a different type of humor, definitely more graphic. As Kate Miltner and Tim Highfield posit in their white paper, “Never Gonna GIF You Up: Analyzing the Cultural Significance of the Animated GIF,” the GIF has become part of the digital cultural landscape in ways that are surprising, unexpected, and arguably delightful.
  • Mainstreaming – Proving that animated GIFs have sufficiently mainstreamed, 57% of marketers report using animated GIFs at least sometimes in their email campaigns, according to the annual Litmus State of Email survey.

It’s one of the simplest, animated communication technologies ever developed, which would also make it perfect for advertising, a trend that’s bound to catch on.

Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong

Founder, Author, Adjunct Professor, Futurist

Michael is the founder of Toolhacker LLC, an innovation speaker and adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, futurist, and author of “Ubertrends — How Trends And Innovation Are Transforming Our Future.” He is also the founder of four ahead-of-the-wave startups, including MacWEEK, Atelier Systems, CyberAtlas, and ICONOCAST.
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