GIFaChrome…what the…?

GIFaChrome…what the…?

That’s what I thought when I first saw a tweet leading me to a blog post or G+ post about the GIFaChrome. I had been participating off and on in the “headless 13” edition of ds106 during the Fall of 2013. I’ll be writing another post very soon reflecting on the course as a whole and it’s “headless” nature. Here I want to focus on GIFaChrome.

I was only able to drop in and out of this iteration of ds106, given that I was teaching full time and doing a good deal of service work and research on top of that. It was an insanely busy term. So I missed a few things during the course, though I usually tried to at least look at most of the stuff people were making, even if I didn’t comment on it.

But at one point I felt I had missed something. Rochelle Lockridge was talking about a GIFaChrome camera and 106 film, and I had no clue what was going on. I figured that I blinked and missed the story, and tried hard to look back at G+, Twitter, blog posts to find the missing pieces. Turns out, though, that the story had yet to unfold. It was an idea that was put together through the collaboration of many people, including Rochelle, Mariana Funes, John Johnston and Alan Levine. The story evolved and changed from hour to hour, as people put in new ideas and created new artworks.

Mariana created an animated glitch gif with the new GIFaChrome camera, and John Johnston came up with the GLITCHaChrome camera idea. He also created a nifty little app that makes glitch giffing easy! (linked in the previously-linked post of his). Pretty soon several more glitch gifs popped up and found their way into the GLITCHaChrome frame (such as some by Janet Webster, Vivien Rolfe), including some in our collaborative gif story over at

At some point around this time the weekly post came out explaining what we’d be doing for the last two weeks of the headless ds106: a final story project.  I knew that even though classes had finished for me by this time, I would still be too busy with marking essays and final exams to put together a whole story on my own. And, as I had volunteered for those last two weeks, the extent of my being “in charge” was to ask the other people who had also volunteered if we should suggest to people that they might do their project in a group. From there, Mariana suggested we work on developing the GIFaChrome story further, and invite anyone who wanted to join in to help. Sounded great to me!

Mariana and Rochelle put together a couple of Storify stories to explain what the GIFaChrome project is, its very short history, so that anyone who wanted to join in could potentially find their way into the project without being too lost. We had a Google Doc where we brainstormed ideas on what to add to the story. We decided to create a GIFaChrome website, a wikipedia page, an Amazon product page, several testimonials from beta testers, commercials, and more. You can see it all by perusing the GIFaChrome page/

We wanted to include a previous riff-a-gif flash mob project that had started as a daily create and turned into a riff on Alice in Wonderland. It became the GIFaKidChrome, thanks to Mariana (at least, I think this was her idea!). And John Johnston came out with another emerging technology, “Layercake,” that allows gifs to move out of the frame.

Alan Levine had a pipeline to a mysterious source that was leaking information about GIFaChrome: here is a stolen schematic diagram for the camera, here is an amazing announcement of a breakthrough technology that allows the GIFaChrome to tunnel back into a person’s past when visiting the website, and here is a video by a competitor camera company, Hasselhlof.

Mariana and Rochelle…what didn’t they do for this project?! They made numerous gifs, turned Mariana’s dog Colin into the GIFaChrome mascot (and Vivien Rolfe made a lovely movie poster for Colin’s next movie…see the bottom of that page!), got Jonathan Worth to agree to be a spokesperson for GIFaChrome, sending us an audio testimonial (see the front page of the website), and more I don’t even know about. Rochelle created the GIFaChrome website, and spent who knows how long creating blog posts and pages for all the things that everyone else was creating, more stuff every hour! Mariana put together a board on Pinterest where intrepid reporter Rita Skeeter tried to undermine the GIFaChrome by spreading nasty rumours.

A couple of us had fun with Mozilla’s Xray Goggles that one can use to change web pages. Jess Hobbs made an Amazon product page for the GIFaChrome, and I tried my hand at making a Wikipedia article for it. I learned that you really can’t do much more than delete and paste things into pages with Xray goggles, as it doesn’t allow you to create new sections or radically change the page. I also had trouble with the footnotes (which I couldn’t really fix with the method discussed in this blog post, because every time I saved the page it had a new URL so my footnotes kept getting broken).

I also made a gif that I put into the GIFaChrome film frame, a gif of my son as a ghost—as described here (in which I wrote a testimonial by the “boo ghost” for the GIFaChrome) and here (in which I explain the process of what I did to get the gif into the GIFaChrome film frame). I also recorded audio of my son to go with the gif; the original audio, in which he’s making his oooooo-ooooo-booooo sound is on the first post linked in this paragraph, and for an audio testimonial I interviewed him and Rochelle Lockridge artfully edited the interview to come up with the audio you can hear here. 

I did a few other audio works for our radio show product launch, and I’ll discuss those in a separate post.

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