A team of MIT researchers are undertaking a project aimed at making the animated image format, GIF, into a catalogue of searchable emotional responses online.
Have you ever seen a post made by someone online and wanted to show your happiness/shock/anger but couldn’t quite put it into words? Then at some point you may have used a GIF as your response.
The 20-year-old image file has grown in popularity in the social media age among people who find it much easier and more apt as a response to something, with celebrity reaction and TV shows the most common source of a GIF’s content.
According to their website, they give a humorous take on why they feel the GIF image is something that is important enough to be catalogued in such a way.
“Because GIFs are awesome. Also, we’re hoping to answer some really interesting questions. Does a GIF’s emotional variance impact how it’s received? (We have a hunch that emotional variance is why :) is pretty acceptable but ;) is typically an awkward mix of creepy/sexy/playful/pirate-y). Does a GIF’s emotional content vary between cultures? For example, what is the best representation of happiness for Germans, compared to a Canadian’s impression?
“And certainly let’s not forget, we just want to build a better way to find GIFs that capture that exact emotion you’re looking for.”
The person searching for the GIF can also fine-tune his or her emotional search by using the polygon, which will allow a more detailed response based off the GIF database of more than 3,000 GIFS and counting.
Users are encouraged to make the results more accurate by being given a choice of two GIFs and asked which is most appropriate to a particular emotional response, eg, relief, and the algorithm will adjust to the findings.