GifCities: Over 4.5 Million Searchable, Old-School, Animated Gifs

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In celebration of its 20th anniversary of archiving the web, the Internet Archive has released GifCities. It’s an animated GIF search engine that has indexed millions of animated GIFs from the obsolete GeoCities websites.

Geocities was an early web hosting service, started in 1994 and acquired by Yahoo in 1999, with which users could create their own custom websites. The platform hosted over 38 million user-built pages and was at one time the third most visited site on the web. In 2009, Yahoo announced it was closing down the service, at which point the Internet Archive attempted to archive as much of the content as possible.

Mining this collection, we extracted over 4,500,000 animated GIFs (1,600,000 unique images) and then used the filenames and directory path text to build a best-effort “full text” search engine. Each GIF also links back to the original Geocities page on which it was embedded (and some of these pages are even more awesome than the GIFs).

Head over there to relive a classic era of the World Wide Web. And please, go notify all your readers that your site is still under construction.

Oily Legs?

Oily or Painted Legs?Image via ‏@msbreeezyyy

Are these pair of thighs covered in oil or painted? I see both (though I admittedly saw oily legs for long before I saw the paint). Once again the internet finds itself divided over an optical illusion.

A Young Globular Cluster

Youthful NGC 362 Globular Cluster

Earlier this week NASA released this dazzling image of NGC 362. It is one of about 150 known globular clusters on the outskirts of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Globular clusters are giant spheres that contain hundreds of thousands of stars and reside in the outskirts of galaxies. The ESA says NGC 362 is unusual:

By studying the different elements present within individual stars in NGC 362, astronomers discovered that the cluster boasts a surprisingly high metal content, indicating that it is younger than expected. Although most globular clusters are much older than the majority of stars in their host galaxy, NGC 362 bucks the trend, with an age lying between 10 and 11 billion years old. For reference, the age of the Milky Way is estimated to be above 13 billion years.

This image, in which you can view many of NGC 362’s individual stars, was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) If you want a new desktop image, here’s the 42 MB full-size original (it will automatically download).

iChildren

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just announced new policy recommendations and resources related to children’s media use and screen time. The recommendations include the following:

  • Children younger than 18 months should not use screen media except for video-chatting. These guidelines are different from previously established guidelines recommending that children under 24 months avoid all screen media.
  • Children ages 18-24 months should only be exposed to high-quality, educational programming, such as content by Sesame Street and PBS KIDS. Media exposure for children this age should always be accompanied by an adult who can help them understand the content.
  • Children ages 2 to 5 years should be limited to an hour of screen time involving high-quality programs. Parents should also co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to their own lives.
  • Children ages 6 and older should have clear limits about both the amount of media time and the type of media content they are allowed to use.
    Families should establish “media-free” times and locations, such as during dinner, driving, and in children’s bedrooms.
  • Regardless of children’s age, families should have regular conversations about online safety and etiquette.

It comes as no surprise to me that the key ingredient to the right media diet for our kids hinges on parental involvement. A parents’ role in managing the media diets of our children has never been greater because problems can begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration and face-to-face social interaction in the real world. At our house, we have a pretty strict media rules. However, I need to work on ways to teach my children to use media in a more positive way.

If you have a children age zero to five years of age, you may want to check out the AAP policy statement which focuses on infants, toddlers and pre-school children called “Media and Young Minds”. If you have school aged children you can get more helpful information from the AAP policy statement “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents”.

In addition to these new media use guidelines, the AAP launched an online “Family Media Use Plan” tool that could help parents establish a healthy media diet that is appropriate to your family’s unique needs.

Good luck parents, we all need it!

via ChildrenAndMediaMan

The World’s Largest Swing


Wow! This video of four skydivers who drop from a hot air balloon on a 125-meter long swing gave me the heebie-jeebies. According to Redbull:

“You have this acceleration in another direction, unlike anything you’d experience with a normal BASE jump or skydive,” says Roithmair, who came up with the idea. “You jump, freefall, waiting for the moment when the line goes tight, then suddenly there’s this non-motorised acceleration. I can’t think of a freefall that had such different patterns of movement.” The idea behind Mega Swing was to realize that childhood dream we all have, says Lettner. “It’s the dream of everyone,” he says. “To swing higher and higher, and finally jump off and fly.”

I admit, I’ve had the dream he describes above. Have you? I think that’s why this video struck me so.