Steve Wilhite was honored at last night’s 17th Annual Webby Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his creation, the GIF. Preceding the show, he spoke with the New York Times tech blog, Bits, about his comments-section beloved invention. You can read all of it here but let’s jump in right about hereish:
In the last decade, the animated GIF has reigned supreme, and while Mr. Wilhite has never himself made an animated GIF, he said the classic, “dancing baby” from 1996 remains a favorite. [Ed. Note: Very good choice.]
He is proud of the GIF, but remains annoyed that there is still any debate over the pronunciation of the format.
“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations,” Mr. Wilhite said. “They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! To be honest, I have a friend — let’s call him John — who has told me that it is pronounced JIF about a billion times, to which I would respond, “Shut the fuck up, John, who gives a shit. I’m never going to say that.” BUT WE CAN’T SAY THAT TO THIS GUY! MOSTLY BECAUSE IT WOULD BE RUDE! (Not rude when you say it to John.) Wilhite further clarified his the correct pronunciation in his five-word Webby Award speech:
Ugggggggggggh. WE GET IT, WILHITE! WE’VE BEEN WRONG! BUT MAYBE YOU SHOULD’VE SPELLED IT JIF IF YOU WANTED PEOPLE TO SAY JIF! “WHAT DOES IT MEAN, THOUGH?” PEOPLE WOULD ASK, AND YOU WOULD SAY, “IT MEANS SHUT UP I INVENTED IT, THAT’S WHAT IT MEANS.” But, ahhhhhhhhhhh, that’s just life, I guess. Sometimes you have to learn that GIF is pronounced JIF for what seems like no good reason, just like when someone had to sit you down and let you know that you can’t abbreviate Doctor Who “Dr. Who” because blah blah blah nerd nerd nerd who cares whatever. In times like this there is only one way to respond, and that way is with a GIF. A GIF that can, like nothing else can, not even all the wards in the durkshinary, express exactly how you feel. And here is mine: