In an age in which the human race has become so technologically advanced that we no longer need another person to take a photo of us, it was perhaps inevitable that we would also find ways to capture ourselves, in motion, and share those moving images with the people most important to us, and also total strangers.
I’m speaking, of course, about the emergence of the GIF camera and the impact it will have on our most treasured relationships and modern society as a whole.
Prior to the release of apps like Camoji, the options we had for expressing ourselves were largely insufficient to capture the wide range of human emotions and experiences we felt every day.
Though previous generations relied on language to get those feelings across, words often failed to hit their mark. More importantly, deep fragmentation between language and cultures meant humans from different backgrounds were unable to effectively communicate with each other.
Technology brought us new ways to share, which solved some problems but also created new ones. Wide adoption of a set of unicode ideograms helped people of different cultures to communicate with one another, but their utility was mostly limited to expressions of affection, acceptance, or disapproval. And, as will happen, many of the symbols available have become overused or simply misunderstood.
The prevalence of handheld devices that could capture still imagery and also send messages via wireless data transfer opened the doors for a new type of expression. Previous generations would wait hours or even days for their portraiture to be completed, and even then those images were mostly stuck on the walls within their homes.
This new technology meant portraits displaying a person’s current emotion were immediate and could be widely shared with others. However, they only captured a small moment in time, which was hardly a complete solution to this complex problem.
Alternative efforts around the same time centered around repurposing prior art as a means of expressing complex thoughts. With decades of moving images available from film and television, people began scouring that media for snippets that could illustrate the everyday struggles and triumphs they felt.
Those moving images often came close to doing so, but no matter how nuanced a performance, the appearance of actors on a screen could in no way substitute for one’s inner conflicts.
That brings us to Camoji, which assimilates many of these communication methods, getting us much closer to unlocking the human condition than all those previous efforts combined. The app enables users to quickly capture and share moving images (i.e. “GIFs”) of ourselves and overlay them with additional text and symbols (i.e. “emoji”).
Camoji has existed in our consciousness for several months, and it has given way to more than a million GIFs being created and shared amongst its users. According to founder Carlos Whitt, Camoji has mostly found a place in the hearts of teens, who are often the quickest of our race to embrace new technology and are bellwethers for the adoption of new means of communication.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Camoji has imagined new ways for its users to save and share. The app can now be used directly from the smartphone’s keyboard, thanks to the progressive thought leadership of Apple and its recent opening up to third parties. Whitt says this was Camoji’s most-requested feature, and users will most likely squeal with delight when they are made aware of this innovation.
Its users can also now send their GIFs directly to Reddit, which is a communication platform frequented by those in the age group that most frequently uses Camoji. It is also a place where expression in GIF format is encouraged and rewarded via social currency called “upvotes.”
While giving users new ways to share, the innovators behind Camoji have also ushered in a new way of discovering GIFs that are of most interest to those who use it. Users now have profiles which are like portrait galleries of their moving images, and the service has curated collections of GIFs that feature common themes.
As with all new forms of human expression, it’s too early to tell the full impact Camoji will have on our society. But one thing is clear — now that we have a way to fully capture and share those most important moments of our lives, the way we think about communicating with others will never be the same.