Stephen Wilhite passed away this week from COVID at the age of 74. A line from his obituary says that Whilite "even with all his accomplishments, he remained a very humble, kind, and good man."

You might not have ever head of Stephen Wilhite, but you definitely know what he created. Stephen Whilite invented the GIF. The funny 2 second videos you send everyone from your best friends to your grandma were made possible by Wilhite's ingenuity.

Theverge - CompuServe introduced them in the late 1980s as a way to distribute "high-quality, high-resolution graphics" in color at a time when internet speeds were glacial compared to what they are today. "He invented GIF all by himself - he actually did that at home and brought it into work after he perfected it," (his wife) said. " He would figure out everything privately in his head and then go to town grogramming it on the computer.

According to that article, it seems that Wilhite lived a fairly quiet life. He did say that the dancing baby GIF was one of his favorite. And I think we can all admit that the world was a better place when we all first saw the dancing baby GIF.

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GIF vs JIF

So how do you pronounce "GIF?" I was FIRMLY in the hard-G GIF camp for decades. The hard-G supporters have two very strong points to their argument.

  1. It's just what most people say first when they see the word. It feels right. And.
  2. The "G" in GIF stands for Graphics which is pronounced with a hard-G. It makes sense then that the hard-G would carry over to the acronym.

That was enough for me to be Team GIF for a long time. That was until I found out the reason it's actually JIF that trumps any argument for GIF.

Wilhite himself, the man who invented the GIF, says that it's pronounced JIF. He was very clear about this. He even made a presentation for the 2012 Webby awards letting everyone know the right way to say it.

AND I have rebuttals for the 2 above points made in favor of GIF.

We think it "looks" like GIF because of the resemblance to the word "gift." There are plenty of instances where "gi" is pronounced with a soft-g like "giraffe" and "gin."

As far as the pronunciations lining up with the acronym consider two other acronyms, SCUBA and LASER.

SCUBA stands for self contained underwater breathing apparatus but it's not pronounced scuh-ba. LASER stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation but it's not pronounced leh-ser.

It can be tough to transition to a soft-g person but if you try, you can probably shake the habit in a few months.

Alright, school time is over, let's get to the Illinois GIFs.

To compile this list I simply went to GIPHY.com and typed in Illinois to see what came up. Here are 10 GIFs of note that come up when you search for Illinois.

1. Lots of Chicago GIFS

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About 85% of the first 200 GIFs are somehow related to Chicago. This makes sense considering that a significant portion of the country doesn't know anything else about Illinois other than Chicago.

2. Ariel shots of farmland or grass

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They're pretty and they all look the same. Something you know if you've ever driven to Springfield.

3. Western Illinois GIFS

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Shout out to the digital team down in Macomb. Western Illinois is all over the place on the results page. Not bad for a mid-tier state school. No offense to any Leathernecks, but if you've visited there you know.

4. Frank Lloyd Wrigt GIFs

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A lot of these are still in Chicago but there's a surprising amount of GIFs focused on the influential architect from Illinois.

5. Spongebob GIFs

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I'm not really sure why this was tagged as Illinois related but it does convey a lot of our emotions on how we think our state government acts. Spongebob always plays.

6. University of Illinois GIFs

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Again, an amazing achievement for Western Illinois to tip the algorithm in their favor. Very impressive.

7. Roseanne GIFs

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The Connors lived in a fictional Illinois town that was said to be modeled after Rockford.

8. Incredible Pig Calling GIFs

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This is what we came for. This lady is in the zone. Probably got trampled by a dozen pigs after this. Truly a diamond in the rough. This GIF needs to be used a LOT more.

9. Bloomington/Normal Transit Authority GIFs

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A shocking number of GIFs pop up from the company that runs the buses in Bloomington/Normal. They have at least 20 in the top 500.

10. GIFs promoting a bodybuilding contest in December of 2022

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I will not be attending this event.

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