Try the Internet Archive’s animated GIF search engine at GifCities.org! You can now get your early-web GIF fix and have a fun way to browse the web archive. Search for snowglobes or butterflies or balloons or (naturally) cats. If you click on a GIF, then it brings to you to the original page from the Wayback Machine. (Then please consider donating to the Archive)
One of the goals for our 20th anniversary event last week was to highlight the amusing and wacky corners of the web, as represented in our web archive, in order to provide a light-hearted, novel perspective on the history of this amazing publication platform that we have worked to preserve over the years.
The animated GIF is perhaps the iconic, indomitable filetype of the early web. Meme-vessel, page-spacer, action-graphic-maker — GIFS are a quintessential feature of the 1990’s web aesthetic, but remain just as popular today as they were twenty years ago. GeoCities, the first major web hosting platform for individual users to create their own pages, and once the third most visited site on the web before being shut down in 2009, occupies a similarly notable place in the history of the web.
So we combined these two aspects of web history by extracting every animated GIF from GeoCities in our web archive and built a search engine on top of them. Behold, for your viewing pleasure, over 4,500,000 animated GIFs (1,600,000 unique), searchable based on filename and URL path, with most GIFs linking to the archived GeoCities web page where it was originally displayed.
Some random staff faves:
Soft-launched at our anniversary event on Wednesday, where we also projected GifCities on the side of our headquarters in San Francisco, the project has been featured in The Guardian, BoingBoing, the A.V. Club, CNET, and others. The GeoCities GIF collection was also made available for creative reuse by artists and researchers, and featured in work such as the GifCollider project currently showing at BAMPFA (see the videos online) and the Hall of GIFs data visualization at NCSU. Shout-outs also go to others working with the GeoCities web archive, including the Geocities Research Institute and historians. More details on the project can be found at the GifCities about page.