"GIFs are one of the oldest image formats used on the web. Throughout their history, they have served a huge variety of purposes, from functional to entertainment. Now, 25 years after the first GIF was created, they are experiencing an explosion of interest and innovation that is pushing them into the terrain of art. In this episode of Off Book, we chart their history, explore the hotbed of GIF creativity on Tumblr, and talk to two teams of GIF artists who are evolving the form into powerful new visual experiences."
(PBS Arts: Off Book, 7th Mar 2012)
"To be blunt [the Internet of the 90's] was bright, rich, personal, slow and under construction. It was a web of sudden connections and personal links. Pages were built on the edge of tomorrow, full of hope for a faster connection and a more powerful computer. One could say it was the web of the indigenous...or the barbarians. In any case, it was a web of amateurs soon to be washed away by dot.com ambitions, professional authoring tools and guidelines designed by usability experts.
I wrote that change was coming 'soon' instead of putting an end date at 1998, for example, because there was no sickness, death or burial. The amateur web didn't die and it has not disappeared but it is hidden. Search engine rating mechanisms rank the old amateur pages so low they're almost invisible and institutions don't collect or promote them with the same passion as they pursue net art or web design.
Also new amateur pages don't appear at such amounts as ten years ago because the WWW of today is a developed and highly regulated space. You wouldn't get on the web just to tell the world, 'Welcome to my home page.' The web has diversified, the conditions have changed and there's no need for this sort of old fashioned behaviour. Your CV is posted on the company website or on a job search portal. Your diary will be organised on a blog and your vacation photos are published on iPhoto. There's a community for every hobby and question.
This is why I refer to the amateur web as a thing of the past; aesthetically a very powerful past. Even people who weren't online in the last century, people who look no further than the first 10 search engine results can see the signs and symbols of the early web thanks to the numerous parodies and collections organised by usability experts who use the early elements and styles as negative examples."
(Olia Lialina, February 2005)
Fig.1 Cyndi Howells. 'Cyndi's Genealogy Home Page Construction Kit'