Mike Isaac

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Coder’s Site Tracks Trending Twitter GIFs in Real Time

Auto_Awesome -Birthday_GIFWelcome to Monday’s single-serving site of the day.

Like some amalgam of Twitter’s stream and BuzzFeed’s penchant for animated photos, Web developer Adam Wentz’s Gifhell.com is exactly what it sounds like: A ceaseless flow of GIFs — the “graphics interchange format” animated photos on repeat — all spun from the most popular GIFs circulating on Twitter at a given moment.

Wentz created the site rather easily, by tapping into Twitter’s public application programming interface and simply searching for links with the .gif file extension on the end, tallying how many times they show up on the service. Wentz’s site goes down the list and shows how many times a particular GIF has been tweeted, also showing how long ago a rise in a specific GIF’s tweets began to show up on the service.

“This thing exists simply because I like animated gifs and wanted to see more of them,” Wentz told me in an email. “I was a little disappointed when I discovered that the bulk of tweeted gifs are Justin Bieber smiling at you but there’s still fun stuff to be found in there,” he said.

It’s a bare-bones site — black text on a stark white background is all that flanks the stream of GIFs — but it’s still an interesting peek at what’s being tweeted about at a given moment (or at least, what’s being tweeted about with a GIF attached to it). Last night, for instance, saw a massive influx of MTV Video Music Award GIFs, replete with a scantily clad Lady Gaga and near-obscene Miley Cyrus imagery on repeat.

A word of warning for the curious: Treat a visit to Gifhell.com like a visit to Reddit; both are streams of raw Internet culture, and often NSFW.

Wentz doesn’t believe he’s in violation of Twitter’s API rules, so take a look at the site here. That is, if the shared server hosting still holds up after the site’s sudden spike in popularity.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik