The Magical (GIF)t
There are many amazing aspects to J.K. Rowling’s world of wizards: thrilling battles between good and evil, Dumbledore’s wisdom, the Weasley brothers’ swag, and a myriad of other elements. One specific piece of Harry Potter’s world that I want to call out here is the Daily Prophet. The London newspaper for wizards is something we may see in the future, are potentially experiencing today, and was sort’ve created by Steve Wilhite over 30 years ago. (I may be losing you a bit, but hold tight! Explanation below)
The animated photographs in the Daily Prophet were such a cool way to see *and* experience the news. Sirius Black’s anger when locked up (left). The Gringotts Goblins’ confusion after the bank robbery (above). I could go on and on with examples, but the point is that it looked cool and was a fun way to know what was going on.
Now, I’m not going to write a piece on the Daily Prophet (sorry to dissapoint fellow Potter fans) but I am going to dive into what made it so cool…the animated photo, a.k.a. the GIF.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF is at least worth double that (I didn’t check my math on that calculation so don’t hold me accountable). Thanks to the rise of the internet over the last three decades, and with it the rise of messaging and email, the ease with which one could use GIFs has added an additional layer to communication: movement to what was once still.
Steve Wilhite, the man who created the GIF 30 years ago, probably had no idea how far his fun idea around animation would go. But wow has it added to my life and, I’m assuming, so many others’ lives, even if in the smallest of ways. It is fascinating how the animation of GIF (not pronounced with a hard ‘g’ like I thought it was since the beginning of time), can help a joke become funnier or make the smile just a little bigger when receiving a loving text. Simply put: GIFs triggers a deeper emotional reaction.
I want to share a few examples of GIFs I’d rather use than saying the word/expression itself. I'm also curious if you agree that the GIF both sends the message across, and does it in a more enjoyable way.
Now tell me the GIFs themselves aren’t a better and more enjoyable representation of what I’m trying to say than simply the words alone. Also, I want to say thanks to giphy.com for pretty much every GIF I’ve used in the last 5 years.
I most definitely understand GIFs are not to be used in more serious/formal writing. But if I am chatting with family or friends about everyday topics, or writing groundbreaking pieces here on Medium, I plan to utilize the incredible GIFt Mr. Wilhite blessed us with in ‘87.
Where do I think animated messaging goes from here? Well with the mobile devices of today, the Daily Prophet is no longer a figment of our imaginations. We may be approaching the alternate universe George Lucas brought to us with Star Wars sooner than we think.
There is a time and a place to use GIFs. I’m just excited that both the times AND the places continue to increase.
With that…until next time.