No one quite charms it like Frank Sinatra, look at him with his Ronald Reaganish slick poofed hair, here GIFfed from a clip from 1944 in Step Lively. I pulled 3 short segments with MPEG StreamClip, converted to .mov, and used the Photoshop import into Layers to make them each an animation sequence. From the animation palette, I found I could copy one set of frames to another, so I montaged this sequence into one GIF.

“Come out, Come out, Wherever you are…”

this si the magic of smooth Sinatra, he sugar coats a story, the lady is enthralled, and the next thing you know it is a show tune. And it keeps happening, again and again

Who could be a classier recipient for the Oxford Dictionary 2012 Word of the Year? It’s making the rounds, but people, go to the source — It is not the GIF as a noun, winning the award, but to GIF, the verb (my emphasis added)

GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the debate

The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it has never been trendier. GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.

Look again- it is the transformation from a poop-culture meme to something that has applications to research and journalism — “its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace”

Again it’s more than the GIF but to GIF that has made this word sbuff out “YOLO” “Super PAC” and (thankfully for my sanity), “MOOC”

Follow the arc of the word this year:

Those who were at the ds106 concert of early 2011 can snicker cause we were GIFfing it even before the class started. Way ahead of Oxford!

UPDATE: Worth adding was an online presentation for the Designs on eLearning Conference 2012 with Jim Groom GIFing it Up in ds106 (note our verb)

Some people just do not get the fascination of GIFfing. I guess its like having a vegetable you cannot stand to eat no matter how good people say it is (personal jok, ha ha).

But there is an important process in the creation of this kind of media, sometimes referred to as occupying the in between space between a photograph and video. Making a GIF is one of those creative processes of deletion, of removing, when you start with something like a clip of a movie (a scene selected from a full movie), and fron that you select just a few seconds of video, and from that you select just a few frames… it is a process of getting down to the minimum details to try and capture the moment of a movie. The choices of what clip and what frames to use are conscious choices of minimalism.

Yet with this Oxford declaration, it says it is this process that is noteworthy, not strictly the product, the verb not the noun.

And then I get distracted, the kind I love the most where I go to a site to read one thing, and a curious link takes me elsewhere, and 3 hours later I am writing a blog post about what I fell into. I found a link to the New York Public Library Sterograph Animator:

This rocks. You can pick a stereograph image (the old fashioned stereo photographs taken to be viewed by special glasses to give a 3D effect)) then use selection points to control the effect, to make either an animated GIF version of what we call in ds106 wiggle stereoscopy or a 3D image.

Can you say “cool remix”?

I took a 1870s stereo image, ran it through the generator, and brought the scene to life:

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at
GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator

What does all this mean? On its own, it is not a story, not a self explained piece of art. No it is an opening to imagination. What if one created a series of these as a wiggle story? What if it was te impetus for a video story about time travel?

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. gifs are indeed fascinating and nice to see official recognition as a verb. i was inspired by a student on your course to gif up some ed conference videos (

    the creation process of a gif that you describe, trying to highlight the essence of the frames brings immediate echoes of chris marker and his amazing film la jetée.

    he will be much missed, took the following shot in sept this year:

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