Twitter opened the floodgates to a whole lot of shenanigans Wednesday when it finally — belatedly! — announced that the network would begin displaying GIFs, those delightful bites of animated snark and sentiment that have become an Internet currency.
This is useful, of course, if you want to tweet a GIF of a pug bouncing up the stairs, or a reality TV star beginning an alcohol-fueled breakdown. But as Tumblrs and Vines the Internet over have already shown, short looped videos can have higher callings, too: as art, as education, as advertising, as news. That makes Twitter’s new support for GIFs (or, more accurately, looping videos — though for users, there’s no practical difference) not just a good way to communicate surprise or outrage to your pals, but to boost an entire medium. Here are some accounts to watch.
@Juxtaprelinger: @Juxtaprelinger finds old film clips in the Prelinger Archives and splices them together, according to themes: “horizons,” for instance, or “San Francisco.” The resulting GIFs fall somewhere between art and history. And that’s only the first three!
@AnimatedText: Graphic designer Catherine Frazier animates 3D, GeoCities-style text blocks on request. She’s done e-cards, mundane sayings, personal confessions … and an entire series on Pornhub comments.
@GIFs: There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to the aptly named @GIFs, which posts a very frequent assortment of pet and pop culture GIFs. For the full experience, you should also follow the partner account @GIFsinWords, which tweets bizarre, context-less descriptions of @GIFs’ material.
@EarthGIFs: Think @EarthPix, but in GIFs. This type of questionably sourced nature porn is not for everyone, but the account’s pretty popular thus far: It’s found 2,584 followers after only three tweets.
@SBNationGIF: SBNation’s two-year-old GIF account previously got around Twitter’s GIF ban by sourcing its material from Giphy and Vine. Presumably you’ll soon be able to see sports gems like this one in-line.
@Pinot: Pinot Ichwandardi is a prolific, and wildly popular, Vine animator who seems ready to turn his talents to Twitter. Since the site started displaying GIFs, he’s converted four of his most popular animations — including this really neat take on MC Escher’s loop.
@MisterGIF: Mr. GIF is the long-running project of artists Mark Portillo and James McCain, who have made stunning animations for everyone from Nike, Evian and Coca-Cola to Anthony Bourdain. They have not, alas, tweeted any GIFs yet. But they did promise to soon!