A thing just happened. At least, I think it's a thing. I was just offered "exclusive GIFs" a company would "like to offer Wired". I had to email the PR back to ask, "promotional GIF images, is that a thing now?"
There's no gas-guzzling criticism parked in this driveway of a musing; this is not a hit-and-run aimed at public relations, blogs or journalism. It is, however, a thought born on first day I was offered GIF images exclusively for publication. Is this the new trailer? The new embeddable video? The new book excerpt or serial publication? The new streamable pre-release album track?
Apparently so. MTV had an "exclusive GIF" for a film. Heavens above!
I think it makes sense in a way, given the pace at which the medium of the GIF stomps through the savannah of digital journalism and publishing -- it's probably equal to the pace at which our attention spans are corroding. Plus, an image tells a thousand words, so it stands to reason a string of them in animated sequences can replace the need for entire articles.
But firstly, it makes me think about what other relics of the past, resurrected on the modern web, may be offered exclusively -- or be treated as a promotional digital commodity -- in future. Will we see custom website themes (previously "the MySpace templates") that use modern web standards to let blogs "theme" their sites with the exact colours and images of a new album release or movie? In the real world could exclusive pop-ups on mobile phones could be offered to stores by advertisers, having customers be greeted by a celebrity if they physically attend a store (using mobile phone geofencing and GPS to authenticate them)?
Secondly, and finally, it makes me think that as web technologies have made content creation so easy, what other ways they can be used for promotional purposes; and thus what ways will writers like myself end up receiving them under the guise of editorial exclusivity?