MIT's Study of Gifs and Emotions Will Consume All Your Time

| 12 Mar 2014 12:45

Don't click on this unless you don't mind losing hours of your life in the name of science.

We've all done it. One moment, you're sitting down with a mug of coffee, ready to finally get some work done, and the next moment you're browsing through listicles and clicking around on amusing gifs. You might even find yourself perusing entire articles composed of reaction gifs culled from the media, like a pop culture quilt. You know you should look away, but the animated magic won't allow you. Now, two MIT grad students are attempting to study the magic of gifs using GIFGIF, a site that attempts to quantify the emotional qualities of various gifs and destroy any hopes you had of productivity at the same time.

GIFGIF presents you with two gifs and asks you to click on the one that best represents a given emotion. After that, it immediately shows you two more gifs, beginning the cycle again. Before you know it, hours of your life vanish. If the constant stream of gifs into your eyeballs isn't enough, the site also has frickin' achievements built in (each with their own gif). This is only one leveling system away from being a controlled substance.

The result of this madness is that GIFGIF is slowly creating a huge data set about the emotional qualities of various animated pictures. Currently, it's an easy way to find a good reaction gif for a post, but the ultimate goal is to analyze how those emotional scores vary across cultures. For example, how do representations of "shame" and "anger" differ between Australians and Norwegians? There's currently 5659 gifs in the GIFGIF database, but since there's an achievement for scoring 10,000 votes, I'm sure that's set to change before too long. I sincerely hope you didn't have anything important to do today.

Source: GIFGIF

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