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Gifs as Language

Gifs as Language

This lightning talk was given at RICON East 2013. It was derived from a short essay of mine from October 2012: http://abe.is/meditation-on-the-gif/

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RJ24YSiKTI&t=70m30s

Abe Stanway

May 13, 2013

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  2. First things first.

  3. gif /ˈdʒɪf/ Noun Not fucking pronounced ‘gif’. See also: giraffe,

    gin, giant, gerbil, geology
  4. Let’s talk Chaucer.

  5. 1343 - 1400

  6. He wrote the Canterbury Tales.

  7. None
  8. Canonical example of Middle English literature.

  9. Also completely impenetrable.

  10. “I wol nat letten eek noon of this route, Lat

    every felawe telle his tale aboute And lat se now who shal the soper wynne And ther I lefte, I wol ayeyn bigynne.”
  11. None
  12. Middle English was spoken, not written.

  13. Let’s talk Shakespeare.

  14. Let’s talk Shakespeare.

  15. Lived from 1564 to 1616.

  16. Not impenetrable!

  17. “To be, or not to be, that is the question:

    Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles...”
  18. None
  19. 1600 1400 ? --------- ---------

  20. 1600 1400

  21. Printing press catapulted into widespread use around 1500.

  22. English started CHANGING

  23. Blackletter was let go

  24. Standard spellings brought in.

  25. The semicolon was invented. (1494)

  26. More words.


  28. None
  29. Fast forward five hundred years.

  30. COMMUNICATION, ART The book as not as It’s 1985...

  31. ...and written media hasn’t really changed.

  32. English hasn’t really changed either.

  33. Thirty years later...

  34. None
  35. An explosion of new written media!

  36. emails, forums, text messages, tweets, status updates, yahoo answers, gchats,

    DMs, youtube comments, hovertext-a-la-xkcd, reddit threads, blog posts, listservs, inline code comments, jira tickets, white house petitions, ios notifications, stupid startup about pages, facebook groups, pastebins,
  37. English is CHANGING

  38. English is CHANGING

  39. It’s streamlining itself again.

  40. New words. (the smallest semantically meaningful grammatical unit. retains meaning

    in isolation.)
  41. sms-speak, memes, smiley faces, emoji, gifs a word.

  42. New morphemes. (the smallest grammatical unit, period. may or may

    not be used in isolation.)
  43. un · break · able signifies "not" root signifies “can

    be done”
  44. # · yolo signifies...something. not really sure how to articulate

    it. pretty nuanced. some kind of "meta-irony" with a dose of contextual satyr chorus, if i had to guess. root. signifies douchebaggery.
  45. Likes and favorites are morphemes too.

  46. New, independent grammars.

  47. New, independent grammars. don’t like your own facebook post captain

    picard must say, “why the fuck,” not “what the fuck.” lol is never spelled uppercase hashtags are only appropriate in levity, unless they are meant to signify inclusion in a broader trend. the “me gusta” rageface signifies a specific type of shameless satisfaction. conspiracy keanu must ask, “what if” full sentences are appropriate in text messages a gif response generally contains a degree of snark
  48. A new, efficient literacy.

  49. Anyway, this is my point:

  50. Written language is like a goldfish.

  51. It grows (and shrinks) to fill its container.

  52. With so many different containers for the written word...

  53. ...and with the velocity that humans are communicating between each

  54. ...the language is metastasizing...

  55. ...developing new, efficient linguistic tools that allow it to fit

    into smaller and smaller spaces...
  56. ...in order to enhance the frictionless transfer of information.

  57. It will continue to do so as long as we

    shove it into ever-shifting media.
  58. Thanks!

  59. Sources: Marotti, Anthony. Manuscript, Print and the English Renaissance Lyric,

    p. 284 bit.ly/128FI6s Pitcher, Lindsay, Cerasano. Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, p. 100 bit.ly/13hXWBW Murphy, Andrew. Shakespeare in Print: A History and Chronology of Shakespeare Publishing, p. 30 bit.ly/17Zz86o http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semicolon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morpheme http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press