GIF Archaeology
May 16, 2011 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing a paper on (animated) GIFs and am trying to track down some of the most (in)famous. I suppose I am talking memes, but I'm more interested in the GIF as an archaeological reference point. I frequent sites like, tumblr etc. so am quite tuned in to the glitchy/kitschy side of GIF culture. How theoretical have people got on these wonders of the web? How does one trace the history of an animated GIF?

I have a personal take on this (my paper is only short), but would love to find some well recognised, well lauded or completely briliant, unknown theoretical essays on the subject.

When I ask for (in)famous GIFs I am really trying to track down GIFs that spawned a long running meme. There are LOTS of memes out there, and many of them have been turned into GIFs, but which memes specifically came from the GIF culture? Has anyone traced these lineages? How would one go about examining a GIF archaeologically (if that is at all possible)?

posted by 0bvious to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
know your meme can help your track down the history of memes.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:20 AM on May 16, 2011

You should talk to twoleftfeet, who made one of the first "under construction" gifs!
posted by Jinkeez at 7:27 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

great scholarly slate article on the animated gif, and includes one of my faves -- liz lemon high-fiving herself.
posted by MaddyRex at 7:59 AM on May 16, 2011

Tom Moody and Paddy Johnson have written a fair amount about animated gifs over the last few years, one as a practitioner and the other a curator. Perhaps they could be of some help.
posted by tip120 at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2011

does count as gif culture? I always think of the khan thing as one of those things that got meme-traction early.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2011

2nding tip120-- definitely check through the archives of Tom Moody's blog-- he comments on discussions of animated gifs from all over the place; it's a great resource for locating the conversations.
posted by activitystory at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2011

in terms of actual meme-generating gifs... i'll list a few off the top of my head. you've probably thought of these already, but just in case you missed one.

the deal with it sunglasses on dog/anything.

that's racist!

i believe the haters gonna hate meme that became mainly image macros was spawned by the animated gif.
posted by MaddyRex at 8:54 AM on May 16, 2011

Response by poster: Some great resources and (reclaimed) histories here, thank you.

I often feed images I find into tineye, which can trace the origins of some through coding similarities.

Are there any other ways to do this (apart from google image)? KnowYourMeme does this kind of thing beautifully. I'd like to build my own set of tools for enacting this kind of archaeological processing.
posted by 0bvious at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2011

I'd say this MeFi thread would be useful, and possibly also this one.
posted by rjs at 10:50 AM on May 16, 2011

Also: this one.
posted by rjs at 10:52 AM on May 16, 2011

There's if you haven't browsed it already.
posted by MrFTBN at 1:27 PM on May 16, 2011

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