GIFs: Popularity and Early Controversy
Gifs have become ubiquitous with the internet. Everywhere you go, you see a swarm of gifs clouding your feed. Whether they are lustige gifs, gifs that portray a reaction, or something else altogether, they form a significant portion of the media strewn across the internet.
In the early stages of the internet, a lot of web pages used gifs. While they were elaborate ones like we use now, they were flashy, extremely low quality and pixelated, and so simple. It is that simplicity that made it an extremely common feature on one of the first major social media platform: MySpace. Thousands and thousands of MySpace profiles, if not millions, used gifs. These weren’t lustige gifs, rather gifs that was meant to show a symbol, or their mood, or anything related to them.
Along with myspace, Tumblr was also one of the early patrons of the gif format. The platform actively encouraged the use of Lustige gifs - gif lustig | PutPut in its threads and as comments. Nowadays, they are found almost everywhere. Be it in emails, advertising, small animations, avatars of people on social media, stickers to go around, gifs are literally everywhere. Various sites like giphy and putput have built an entire web space around gifs and are thriving because of their popularity.
When there are hundreds of different media forms, how does one media form which is so simple and innocuous become so popular? Well, part of the answer lies in the question itself. Gifs are simple. Gifs are the perfect lovechild of photos and videos. They convey more than still photos and take up less space than actual videos. They are extremely easy to share and if you know the right websites, extremely easy to make as well.
Another reason for their popularity is the support across all platforms which gifs get. Be it any operating system, any search engine, any big social media platform, and any such big digital interface, all of them support gifs. This has given this amazing media format something which not all media formats have: transferability across most devices and systems. This has provided a significant boost to the growth of the gif in recent years.
Facebook, google, and other big tech companies have gone out of their way to make their platforms gif supportive. All social media platforms support gifs directly and through stickers nowadays. They are easier to search than ever, and various websites like putput and imgur act as digital warehouses of the best lustige gifs in the world.
While you share lustige gifs from sites like putput with a lot of ease, you don’t realize that a controversy had brewed over the image format back when it was made. While CompuServe did independently develop the image format in 1987, Unisys had actually patented the technique which was used for it 2 years earlier in 1985. Both of the companies publicly engaged in a tussle over the copyright of the format which lasted for several years till 1994. Unisys decided that it would charge a small fee for licensing the gif to commercial entities.
Because of this disagreement, a lot of the initial developers had actually decided to boycott the format altogether. Can you imagine a source of such happiness being boycotted? However, as you already know, this did not stop the growth of the gif because gifs were extremely helpful when it came to designing early web pages. These gifs proved to be extremely good placeholders for the features that would be put afterwards.
From being saved from total boycott because of being a good placeholder to being everywhere on the internet, the gif has come a long way from its humble beginnings.