Is what a particular GIF means to me the same as what it means to you? GIFGIF, an astonishingly-addictive GIF sorting game from MIT's Media Lab, aims at finding out.
Created by MIT grad students Travis Rich and Kevin Hu and The GIFGIF generator works by throwing up two GIFs, pitting them against each other in a cage match to determine which of one of 17 key emotions (including anger, happiness, excitement, surprise, fear, sadness, and disgust) is represented best.
The goal behind it is not just a fun game, though, it's also to crack the meaning behind the language of the GIF and how we use them. Rich and Hu write:
An animated gif is a magical thing. It contains the power to convey emotion, empathy, and context in a subtle way that text or emoticons simply can't . . . Does a gif's emotional variance impact how it's received? (We have a hunch that emotional variance is why :) is pretty acceptable but ;) is typically an awkward mix of creepy/sexy/playful/pirate-y). Does a gif's emotional content vary between cultures? For example, what is the best representation of happiness for Germans, compared to a Canadian's impression? And certainly let's not forget, we just want to build a better way to find gifs that capture that exact emotion you're looking for.
So what do you think of the idea of GIFs as a language? Tell us in the comments now (using either GIFs or words).