A powerful tool for Business and Academia that isn’t being used

GIFs are not only for internet culture.

Image captured for my Animal Behavior research project at Texas A&M University.

When I went through the painstaking process of creating the perfect GIFs to use in a research project on cattle demonstrating their grooming behavior, I had in mind that this was the best way to show these behaviors, because using video was frowned upon due to the high likelihood of it not working for whatever the reason that powerpoint loves to frustrate us. My quirky professor was surprised to see my title slide with a steer licking his lips on it and remarked “Oh you’ve got a little, video, there ” … it was a GIF. I was the first to present, and all of the other kids had to talk about what animal behavior projects they’d done with only still pictures and charts.

Image Source

I used GIFs again for my senior research paper presentation, sprinkled throughout the powerpoint but tucked into a corner of the slide just to make sure people would stay awake to look for them. I also used a set of pig and the cookie GIFs at the beginning and end of the presentation to help make my point. Explaining how little we know of reproductive epigenetics in the porcine model can get very boring, even for animal science students, and especially in a 15 minute long presentation. Eventually scientists will understand epigenetics enough to help people with medical problems, and in doing so will finally taste that elusive cookie.

Those are just my own two examples of using GIFs in academia. There are many more scientific and educational reasons to use this image format. How many lectures did I sit through where the professor had to waste class time drawing the lines on a demand curve and then redrawing them for the next example? How much more could I have learned in organic chemistry when the prof would have had more explaining than drawing Newman projections to do, or could have shown the different 3D views of chiral molecules? Dare I posit that graduate students might enjoy giving presentations (a little)?

Imagine this as a gif! Image source

In a presentation on a downhole tool for the oil drilling industry, my father had a two second video, which he had to set up to replay at least 10 times with pesky powerpoint animations, during the time the slide it was on was being discussed. A GIF of the same would have kept on replaying tirelessly without the slightest worry of the file somehow not making it to the same folder that the powerpoint was contained in.

Imagine if all business professionals had the capability to create GIFs and give their supposedly stuffy presentations a little more life and engagement. Charts that could show time lapse sales trends without integration of complicated modeling software. All you need is excel and gifmaker.net (which probably exists), or whatever free as the wind gif making services are out there. There are even free smartphone apps that create gifs. A tool so easy to access and so visually efficient should have caught on by now, right?

However small a native acceptance the GIF has gained in social media beyond tumblr, it has major application potential for internal business and academic use.

The pig does get the cookie, by the way.

Image source
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