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OPLIN 4cast #409: Serious GIFs

Posted in 4cast

book animationSometimes new tech ideas that might be of interest to libraries do not happen quickly and make a big splash, but rather slip slowly and quietly into practice. Animated GIFs – short, repetitive animations done in Graphics Interchange Format – came to be known years ago as a defining characteristic of less-than-serious websites and are the technology behind many of those annoying ads that border web pages, so they are not exactly quiet and unobtrusive. But it seems they do have a more serious side that is not as splashy and can possibly be useful to libraries. Is your library using any animated GIFs for online library “how-to” guides or other instructional materials?

  • Animated GIFs: From gimmick to gestalt (University of Alaska Fairbanks eLearning Instructional Design Team blog | Christen Bouffard)  “GIFs are well suited for illustrating sequential processes. Many explanations we may want to share with others do not require all the time involved in shooting a video or creating a screencast. Sometimes these explanations can be most effectively conveyed in just a handful of frames, free of audio narration, excessive bandwidth usage, and extraneous media players.”
  • Using animated GIF images for library instruction (In the Library with the Lead Pipe | Karl Suhr)  “One initial attraction to exploring the use of animated GIFs was as an alternative to video. Given a choice between a video, even a short one, and some other media such as a series of captioned images or simple text, in most cases I will opt for the latter, especially if the subject matter demonstrates or explains how to do something. Some of this is merely personal preference, but I suspected others had the same inclination. In fact, a study by Mestre that compared the effectiveness of video vs. static images used for library tutorials indicated that participants had a disinclination to take the time to view instruction in video form.”
  • How to use GIFs to enhance your visual content marketing strategy (Everypost | Fernando Cuscuela)  “GIFs that function as how-tos, product demos, or instructional guides are a great way to convey a lot of information efficiently, and can be even better than blog articles or long-form social media posts.… What’s more, the GIF version is much more visually appealing, memorable, useful and therefore shareable.”
  • Why aren’t animated gifs used for more practical purposes? (Replicator | Joseph Flaherty)  “So why aren’t these miniature animations used more widely for practical purposes? Do any ecommerce sites use animated gifs to show off the unique features of a product? How about replacing turgid instructional guides with gif-tastic help pages? Animated images are a perfect midpoint between static images and full on video content, but are rarely used for productive purposes, with a few exceptions.”

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