GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)I don’t consider them silly, some are cute. However, cute, they become extremely distracting or even annoying when the GIF is looped. Remember the “dance” character GIF being used for advertisement? The movement is intended to catch the eye and bring attention to the advertisement. Because they are roughly done, I can see where the loop restarts, they become a distraction rather than the intended attraction.
I find that some graphics are more distracting then others. If the graphic is fast, it catches the eye sooner and continues to command attention. Newton’s cradle GIF below are the same graphic with different speeds.
The faster speed is more distracting and becomes annoying after a brief exposure. The slower speed, on the left, is intriguing and almost soothing.
Color and content also makes or breaks a GIF. If the colors are neutral, the image, animated or not, becomes more bearable, but less obvious. Should the colors be bright, the GIF will command more attention. Should the colors be bright and flashing, then you have one of those annoying sidebar advertisement GIF. The reader is distracted from the content of the page by the flashing movement. A good move for the advertiser, not so go for the writer of the article.
This glitter text is a GIF. The image doesn’t change, but the color changes. It’s cool at first, but tires the eyes.
Having the same color with flashing stars makes the GIF text easier to deal with and less distracting.
The GIF I created from a few old screen shots of FF8, has color and rapid change. As in the image of the fast newton’s cradle, fast movement is distractive. However, when the image and the colors change rapidly, it catches the eye sooner, but once you’ve reviewed the image, the repetition of the looping causes annoyance.
How I receive a GIF depends on how it is delivered. I do not think animated GIFs are silly. They’ve been around for a long time and have a purpose. Neither do I view them as Political cartoons of our time. Cartoons are just that, cartoons, media or content doesn’t change what they are. I see animated GIFs as an advertising or marketing tool.