When I first started with web tech GIFs were used frequently, sadly their most common use was to let you know that “this site is under construction” or for dancing hampsters. Since then they have taken a wicked turn, destined to the bowls of the internet to be used only for cat GIFs and the wiles of 4chan.
Their reputation of bloated size, and negative preconceived notions haven’t helped their popularity since then. Due to this GIFs have taken a back seat in the world of web images to JPGs and PNGs.
As I was watching the world cup a couple months ago an individual named FOOTBALL_GIF_MAESTRO was posting animated GIFs of each important play. I was then able to send this GIF to people on their mobile devices who didn’t want to stream the whole game, but were interested in the high moments. It was awesome! This really makes me wonder if animated GIFs are a mobile alternative to video? As peoples attention span drops the value of a small, and short medium rises.
Since then I have noticed Animated GIFs are now supported on twitter, and with a proper wrapper html5 support lets you play and pause them. I have also noticed a trend of using GIFs as backgrounds on large sites to add a little bit of texture to what would other wise be bland page. Hopefully GIFs popularity in bug reporting continues to rise.
Any way you cut it, the frequency of GIF use is going up, and we need to be aware of its resurgence.