Grad Students from MIT are Trying to Find The Perfect GIF's

Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 01:43 PM

Levar Burton GIF Levar Burton Thumbs Up (via)

GIFGIF is a project from the MIT Media Lab designed to find the perfect GIF for all of our core online emotions. 

GIFGIF offers you, the user, two GIF's that are both supposed to represent, say, "ANGER,"You choose which one (if either) best represents that feeling. The GIF's are scored and then ranked according to the crowd's votes.

So you can see what a large group of people have agreed is the platonic GIF ideal of "EMBARRASSMENT"

Or "PRIDE." 

Or "AMUSEMENT."
 

(You can also see some of the also-rans in each category.)

Two mildly competing ideas come to mind surveying GIFGIF. One is that, obviously, you can't really rate one GIF as objectively the best GIF. The most popular GIFs for any emotion usually rely on a pop culture reference (Jason Segal, Elie Kemper), and recognizing those references is an audience-specific phenomenon.

My Dad has no idea who Jason Segal is, so his platonic GIF for amusement would probably be a close-up of Mike Schmidt or something. And yet, while GIF's are subjective, they're not entirely so. Some GIFs do feel intrinsically more right than others -- choosing the right GIF feels similar, dopamine-wise, to choosing the right word in a sentence. Which probably points to what this project really is -- a v]isual slang dictionary, albeit one where a lot of the words are just various iterations of Jennifer Lawrence's face. 

 

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