Those of a certain age will remember that brief shining moment when Myspace ruled the Internet right before Facebook blew up, but just after Friendster melted.
Aside from the inevitable "top friend" drama and overall unreliability of the site, the most striking and awful feature about Myspace was the kinetic personalized pages filled with ever-looping visual vomit. Things were moving all over the place, and would often take down your browser in the process. This was the hay day of the social animated gif. And thanks to a new update on Google Image Search, the entire Internet may soon become a giant horrible Myspace page, circa 2005.
Google has recently given users the ability to filter specifically for animated gifs via its image search tool. All you have to do is click on "Search Tools" on the top right and pull down the "Any type" menu to "Animated" and you will be offered a screen full of moveable magic options (Google—wisely—presents you with static images and will only showcase the full animated sequence when you click through).
Animated gifs, to their credit, have remained a web presence over the years and evolved well beyond the dancing cartoon hamsters of web 1.0. Along with their sophisticated cousin, the cinemagraph, they have secured a place for themselves in the modern web in certain cloistered corners of the web such as Tumblr and Reddit. However, despite their tenacity and popularity with some communities, gifs haven't regained their prominence on the web. And there's a good reason—they are visually assaulting, especially when there are several together on the same page.
Now, I don't want to completely discount the entire medium of animated gifs. For example, here's an animated gif featuring a loris eating a rice ball:
Hard to improve on that. However, my fear is that new aspect of Image Search—the go-to source for web images—will streamline the animated gif marketplace. Soon, any search term will be easily matched with a glut of sub-par jigging gifs, and we will find ourselves mired back in the worst parts of the early social web.
While Facebook has wisely kept moving gifs out of its ecosystem, G+ has been more liberal in its animated policy. But it's this new font of properly indexed images that will fill blogs, tweets, and comment boards with dancing cats, TV clips, and unfortunate people caught in the act of "failing."
In time, people will, once again, lose interest traversing through the hellscape of a glitchy web as they did in the era of web 1.0 and later as they did when they traded Myspace in for the minimalist simplicity of Facebook. But in the short run, we may face an ambush of kinetic awfulness. Stay strong.
Want to make your own animated GIFs? Check out our guide!
This story, "Google's new animated gif search will make the entire Internet horrible" was originally published by TechHive.