As regular readers know, we love GIFs. We love them a lot. But one oddball thing you learn about them quickly is that how they’re interpreted is a very cultural thing. A GIF that’s hilarious to Norwegians will leave Italians confused, and that’s before we get into foreign memes. So, MIT has decided to build a “GIF translator.”
Called GIFGIF, the process is designed to, in the words of the team, “map the emotions” of GIFs. It’s pretty simple; you just go to the site, and you’re presented with an emotion and two GIFs. Pick the one that better suits the emotion, and keep going. After all, it’s not like you had anything to do today, right?
Yeah, it’s mesmerizing, as only simple Internet clickbait can be, but it does have a larger point. As anybody who’s gotten into an argument over an email can tell you, humans suck at reading emotion through anything that isn’t more or less standing in the room, making eye contact. Sarcasm, flirtiness, and so on can all be misread, or accidentally read into the message.
GIFGIF is an attempt to better read and sort GIFs through their emotional content. So, by staring at GIFs and ranking them, you’re not just goofing off: You’re helping the Internet better sort through how it feels about GIFs. You’re the Internet’s therapist, you could say. Just stay away from the creepier subreddits.