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On the 27th of October heritage institutes around the world celebrated UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. Sound and Vision used this moment to launch its GIF collection. Yes, that is right, we think this looping format is a vital part of contemporary media culture and should be preserved in our media collection. But we cannot do it alone! That is why we created a poll on Instagram and asked our followers to vote on GIFs that should become part of our collection.

To start our collection, we came up with some initial selection criteria for a Dutch GIF collection. In case you missed this, you can read all about it here. Of course, nothing is set in stone - if anything, each category raises many questions that we are eager to investigate.

Based on these criteria, we selected 28 GIFs. We showed these GIFs on our Instagram Stories and asked the public whether we should archive them or not. In this blog post, we share the Instagram poll results with you. The highs and the lows, but also some unexpected results that prompted interesting questions about the GIF culture.

The Results

Overall the voters were pretty enthusiastic about the pre-selection we made. Most of the GIFs got a very positive response. So let's start with some of the GIFs that got the most YES votes.

 

81% YES - 19% NO

 
 

75% YES - 25% NO

 
 

79% YES - 21% NO

 
 

74% YES - 26% NO

 

 

It comes as no surprise that the most popular were reaction GIFs - probably because people can easily imagine using them in their digital conversations. Who would not find a situation in which to reference to a GIF of a falling prime minister?

The results don’t show any definite NOs, but with some GIFs, opinions were clearly divided. These were the two that got the most NO votes.

 

42% YES - 58% NO

 
 

44% YES - 56% NO

 

You might notice that what these two GIFs have in common is that they are much more like video excerpts rather than your usual GIFs that are simply visually appealing or reaction GIFs that can be momentarily understood by anyone. What does that tell us? Well, we really need to investigate what makes a GIF. Because it is clearly not just about the digital format. Technically, we could archive all of these GIFs since they take up barely any storage space. But we want to create a collection that captures the GIF making culture.

A result that definitely surprised us was the GIF with the painting Girl with the Pearl Earring by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. As heritage lovers, we were quite enthusiastic about it, but the opinions of the voters were divided. It makes us wonder why such a recognisable image got an ambivalent score. Did the voters not appreciate the alternation of this painting? Is the added intervention not funny enough to fit in the realm of GIF? Or do GIF lovers just simply not like historical art?

 

51% YES - 49% NO

 

What’s next?

First of all, THANK YOU for voting! Your input gave us a lot of food for thought as we will start preserving GIFs and researching the meaning of GIFs within our media collection. The results showed us once more that GIFs are not just a digital format that can be reduced to one simple category. Clearly, the public has an idea about what GIFs they would like to see included in the collection. This presses the importance that we should involve the public and GIF makers in the development of the collection. For now, we still have quite a few questions about what exactly are the GIFs that we would like to preserve. As a national institute, we wonder if it’s even possible to make a Dutch GIF collection since it is not fitting with the GIF culture to look at national borders. We will continue investigating the GIF culture and will keep you posted through our blog and social media channels. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us by getting in touch! You can do so by e-mailing Brigitte Jansen.