The animated GIF has been around for years. In early days, it was a way to send moving images in a low resolution format. Sites like Geocities would have tons of animated blinking signs and moving photos. However, it’s 2011 and the animated GIF pretty much looks like a bad picture. So why did Google+ choose to allow animated GIF files on their social network? Better yet, can I stop these things from loading up?
Definition of animated GIF: GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Compuserve introduced it in 1987 that supports up to 8 bits per pixel, therefore creating 256 colors. There are two types 87a (images) and 89a (supporting animation). If you want to read more on GIF, check Wikipedia.
How Big is that Animated GIF?
Let’s address the first problem with an animated GIF. They can be larger in size. Whereas a jpg is compressed for the web to less than a megabyte, animated GIF files can start to exceed, depending on how many frames they have and the size of the image. While there are image upload limitations, it is still difficult to load up at times.
I was in the coffee house this morning getting my show notes together. I went to check my Google+ account for any ramblings, but with all the animated GIF files running – along with other patrons that were using the connection – the page loaded slow. So slow I had to close the window because it was killing bandwidth for all.
While someone that re-shares the GIF doesn’t suck more bandwidth, someone who puts a new instance of the image file already doubles, triples or sends the bandwidth to a slow crawl.
Right now you have 10 million playing on G+. I wouldn’t be surprised if 10,000 people post or share animated GIF files. Imagine what happens when 750 million are on the site.
Making GIF’s in Support of Google+
There is a specific GIF that is running in bulk out there. It is the “I hate Facebook and I’m gonna make an animated GIF showing such” GIF. Basically, they cover the faces with a Facebook icon, a G+ or +1 icon and some cases a Twitter icon. The idea is to show that Google is beating Facebook’s ass.
While that may be the sentiment for a lot of G+ers, a page that gets reshared 10-20 times in an hour is just too much to watch on a person’s wall.
An old trick to stop animations in IE or Firefox was to simply hit the “esc” (escape) key. Chrome does not have that feature.
A Solution to Animated GIF on Google+?
It’s nice to see some rise up and be creative. Nonetheless, I would like to have the front page a little more trim. There has to be a way to keep animated GIF from running unless you press a button. Even a hover option would be cool – you hover the mouse over the image and it plays; when you move the mouse away, it stops.
Turning off the GIF feature totally might be too restrictive. However, giving people a choice makes them feel a little happier on the experience. The social network is still in beta, so maybe once they move forward this issue will be addressed. For now, people are GIFin away like it’s Geocities from 2002. Surprised the Glitter bars or website counters haven’t shown up yet.
Maybe they will…