Yesterday, we learned that the MLA allows you to cite tweets in academic papers now. Today, we discovered PBS‘ mini-documentary devoted to internet .gifs. More and more, older institutions that we might assume are going to remain tech-illiterate have taken strides to understand and interact with Millennials’ technology and the memes contained therein.
Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium is part of PBS’ Off Book web series, which profiles artists working with experimental media. They interview authorities like Patrick Davison from Meme Factory, as well as artists Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who create cinemagraphs. You’ve seen those without knowing their names—photos where a single detail moves, from a crumpled newspaper to a lock of hair blowing in the wind.
The interviewees discuss the history of the format and its resurgence around 2007 thanks to Reddit and Tumblr. ”.gifs are great ’cause it’s a low-barrier entry,” one person reflects. “Anyone can play around.” Really, they’ve become another way of speaking online, replacing emoticons for sites like LiveJournal; you can tell an entire narrative with carefully-chosen .gifs. It’s also a more entertaining way to recap shows like Glee and One Tree Hill, more engaging than photos or even videos.
So make sure you check out Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium! I would have preferred a bit more focus on the geek community’s use of the files as opposed to fashion photography, but that’s just me. Kudos to PBS for not only trying to get Millennials, but getting it right