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'GIF Hell' is exactly what it sounds like

Aug. 27, 2013 at 2:38 PM ET

The website 'gif hell' tracks the most popular GIFs on Twitter and updates them in real time.
.gif hell
The website '.gif hell' tracks the most popular GIFs on Twitter and updates them in real time.

If you've been on the Internet lately, you know you didn't need to watch MTV's Video Music Awards to get a good picture of what happened Sunday night. The "GIF Industrial Complex." provided plenty of stuttering images of Miley Cyrus dancing, ahem, suggestively with a man sixteen years her senior was seared into our popular consciousness.

Increasingly, we're getting everything we need to know via animated images. And now there's now a website dedicated to compressing the entire production line from "actual real-life event" to "trending GIF-powered Internet meme" in a matter of seconds. Aptly titled ".gif hell," the site tracks the Twitter GIFs activity, ranking them based on timeliness or popularity.

Updating in real time, the site provides a fascinating cross-section of the collective Twittersphere. And it's already run into the inevitable porn problem, promising that the site will "reopen tonight on more permissive hosting" by the end of the day.

All this just goes to show how rapid the creation and subsequent archiving of cultural material is these days. As Jay Z, the entertainment mogul and elder statesmen of rap music, put it in one song off his recent album "Magna Carta Holy Grail": "somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerking." What Jay Z probably should have said here is "somewhere on the Internet, Miley Cyrus is still twerking." Will she ever stop? Can she ever stop? Maybe not, but just a day after Monday's blowup, her infamous twerking-with-Robin-Thicke GIF is already buried somewhere below a new cluster of GIFs.  

Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com.

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