MIT Students Research the Language of GIFs (and They Need Your Help!)

by

Mar   2014

Thu

20

It happens all the time these days. You e-mail a friend asking if he or she would like to join you at a party, concert, or some other type of shindig over the weekend and you get something like this in response:


NBC via gifawesomeness.tumblr.com

GIFs have infiltrated the Internet and are changing the way we communicate with one another—so much so that two students at MIT have set out to quantify their importance.

Nerd vandalism
Nerd Vandalism via 9gag.com

Travis Rich and Kevin Hu, graduate students at the MIT Media Lab, created GIFGIF, a website designed to study the use of and emotional reactions to GIFs. They discussed the project in a recent interview with Quartz.

“We were talking about GIFs one day,” said Hu, “and we realized that they’re becoming more and more serious of a medium. They’re more popular, they’re used for more things. And we realized that we could quantify this usage.”

GIFGIF presents visitors with two GIFs and asks them to choose which one best represents a particular emotion, such as fear, excitement, or satisfaction. One of Rich and Hu’s initial goals is to create a text-to-GIF translator that would generate a set of GIFs based on a piece of text, such as a poem. They’re also interested in the sociological aspect of GIFs, and they’ve noticed that votes on the site vary from country to country, which, said Rich in their Quartz interview, “could help us understand how emotions are interpreted across the world.”

18 Things Americans Studying Abroad In Europe Say, And What They Really Mean
Walt Disney Pictures via buzzfeed.com

Aside from facilitating the collection of emotional and cultural data, GIFGIF also allows the researchers to build a database that will help you find the perfect GIF for whatever type of response you’d like to convey.

the office animated GIF
NBC via giphy.com

Since launching earlier this month, the website has drawn thousands of users each day. So if you need a break from hitting the books, spend a little time on GIFGIF—it’s fun and you’ll be helping to advance the study of human communication.

22 Jimmy Fallon GIFs That Are Pretty Much Your Life
NBC via buzzfeed.com

Note: Did you know you could win a $10,000 scholarship for college or grad school just by registering on CollegeXpress? This is one of the quickest, easiest scholarships you’ll ever apply for. Register Now »

About CollegeXpress

CollegeXpress

Welcome to CollegeXpress, your one-stop college shop! We’re a free college-planning website used by millions of college-bound students, their parents, and guidance counselors—anyone who needs help navigating the college search and application process, financial aid opportunities, and more. You’ll find comprehensive college and scholarship search tools, tons of articles and advice, unique college lists and rankings, and lots of other resources to help make your life easier. Teen Vogue even named us one of the 7 Best College Search Websites! But current college students and recent grads also love CollegeXpress for our grad school search tool and endless information on student life, internships and careers, and beyond. We really have something for everyone, no matter where you are on your college journey.

 
Comments