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    Google's Brought Us Closer to Peak GIF

    Written by

    Daniel Stuckey


    As the search giant prepares to bury every journalist's best friend, Google Reader, it's releasing a new way for people to find GIFs, the undead image format of the 1990s, thanks to new filters in its Image Search called "Animated," and "Transparent."

    It may be the first time the GIF has been formally corralled into a search tool. As a maven of GIFs, it's just the type of tool I've been waiting for. From the good ol' Google Alerts setup for "GIF + {      }," tags, to the "Tumblr + GIF + {      }" Google searches, to the searches within Dump.fm, to classic GIF arsenals like this one, to scanning Buzzfeed for its GIF-listicles, there haven't been simple, straight-forward ways to track down GIFs. Which also means that just about anyone will be able to deploy the format in their internet comms, perhaps establishing a new high-low GIF art divide, and propelling us even faster towards peak GIF. 

    This is how Google explained it--though no word on how they pronounce it.

    Even if you’re a fan of animated gifs—say you were the first to email your friends the slow loris very slowly eating a rice ball (goo.gl/KDDX1)—you may not know that the origins of animation go as far back as 1879 and Eadweard Muybridge’s “zoopraxiscope” (see our doodle homage to Muybridge: goo.gl/PGQW3). Gifs have been around since 1987 and have become the de facto standard for short animations on the web, from pony glitter text (goo.gl/iZoEZ) to grumpy cat memes (goo.gl/bC9um).

    Starting today, there’s an easier way to unearth those gems: when you do an image search, click on “Search tools” below the search box, then select “Animated” under the “Any type” dropdown box.

    We’ve also added a second handy filter: if you’re after the perfect picture of Easter basket clipart (goo.gl/XutAa) but must have one with a transparent background, simply select “Transparent” under the “Any color” dropdown box.

    The loss of Reader and the gain of GIF search might give pundits like Bruce Sterling something to say about the death of literature and the rise of visual culture. The Times and the Oxford Dictionary and the Museum of the Moving Image (all Johnny-come-Latelys) will find in this more evidence of the GIF's nostalgic relevance. Tech bloggers might see this as a response to Twitter's Vine play. Perhaps its a sign that Google has noticed its own recent search trends:


    Meanwhile, the GIF will wedge itself even deeper into Internet conversations, emerging further from the corners of the web and into the mainstream spotlight. Which, depending upon your existing relationship with the GIF, may or may not be something to  about.


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