Why do you want to make a gif at all?

This story starts with the question of the title. DS106 is a digital storytelling course that amongst many other things teaches to 'stop worrying and learn to love the gif'. As a community not all of us see the point of this particular story telling tool.


  1. Update 2017 - scroll to the end of this very long storify to get details of some new giffing resources I have come across in the last little while. Enjoy.
  2. See more amazing gifs from the artist above here:
  3. I am using this space to collect data to write a post to answer the question above and also to offer it as resource to anyone who may be asking this question:
  4. If you were going to share the easiest tool and tutorial for making an animated gif with teens (or faculty...
  5. You might think that is is a simple enough question to ask a digital storytelling community on G+ yet Robin may have been surprised at the extent of our engagement with the question. 18 comments later ( which you can read if you click on the date of post above) he said:

    "Wow thanks for all these awesome responses!! Given me tools as well as how to incorporate a gif meaningfully into learning. You all ROCK!"

    You might have thought that would be the end of it. But we continue to comment and engage with the post. Partly it is because not all of us accept the premise that the animated gif could (or should) be incorporated meaningfully into learning. We enjoy teasing each other and openly discuss our differences. I sometimes think that this very polarised responses to the gif is the thing that makes it such a central part of the DS106 narrative. Be that as it may, I planned a quick post to answer the question of the title, Beautifully posed by Sandy Brown Jensen. In response to Robin's question above she said:

    "First of all, figure out your objectives in the cognitive realm, i.e. why do you want to make a gif at all?"

    I took up the challenge to answer the question, never imagining that it would take me to pages full of links that discuss the value of animated gifs, its history, its uses, how to use art appreciation tools to evaluate their quality....and very beautiful examples of animated gif new and old. The post was never going to be a quick one!

    I decided to ask on Twitter. I asked the question and created the #whygif hashtag to help me collect answers. We started with the straight forward answer - we make them for fun. This quickly gave way to responses that positioned the gif as a work of art and/or a learning tool. For myself, as I read responses and collect resources, I keep thinking about the emotional responses they generate both when I make them and when I watch them. Why make one at all? "They can disrupt patterns of thought and play havoc with our idea of what a 'story' is." say some. "They are only one of ten concepts in the Assignment Bank. I encourage creativity wherever and whenever it bolts its lightning to the ground, including gifs, but lets not oversell them!"

    Below are the tweets I have had so far. What is interesting is that the conversation continues, some of us in DS106 love them, others are neutral, others hate them and we keep talking.