Understanding Animated GIF

In the digital age, individuals are given various ways to portray themselves and manage self-presentation online. A growing body of research has demonstrated people express and perceive online identity through textual and visual cues such as emoji and avatar. Animated Gifs, distinct from other media, are highly engaging, versatile, malleable, and can communicate layers of abundant hidden meanings. Communicating copious non-verbal cues, Animated Gifs can thus be personal devices of self-embodiment and effective manifestation of emotions and affects like no other, and little work has been done to investigate how users portray themselves via Animated Gifs. In this project, we ask if and how users express their identities (race and gender) through animated gifs as well as discover keywords and processes involved in users’ usage of animated gifs.  We conduct studies where participants will be given a context and asked to write a tweet about it and choose an animated gif. By collecting and analyzing the identity of the characters in the animated gifs, we will discover how and in what ways will users express their identity through animated gifs.

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