The article is a lengthy article about the history of the .gif format - the recent trend of converting it to a video or video-like format - and this being centered around the ability to share the .gif itself.
This is due to many sites (Twitter, Facebook) making it difficult to save a .gif to share later. You need to share the Twitter or FB link instead (which is what they want...). Giphy was mentioned as a way to share .gifs easily, but it has its own limitations (eg: no pornography).
It was something that was thought of as a "gimmick" but turned out to be popular. Mostly due to browsers not having good inline video support outside of Flash. I also, in large, blame tooling and discoverability of that tooling for easily creating webm, mp4, or other video formated. For example - if I want to record 8 seconds of a video to turn into a .gif, I can do so easily with an online tool nowadays! If I want that same 8 seconds as a .webm, I now need to find a way to download the source file, trim it down to the 8 seconds I want, save it as an .mp4, then use my .mp4 to .webm converting software to finally have the .webm I wanted. Most people will opt for the shorter/easier .gif conversion.
And if you decide to do it yourself, I don't understand why you'd need to go through an mp4 intermediate. With ffmpeg you can trim and encode your clip to webm with a single command and a couple switches. Or if you want an easy GUI tool, there's always WebM for Gits (https://github.com/nixxquality/WebMConverter )
>And if you decide to do it yourself, I don't understand why you'd need to go through an mp4 intermediate.
Screen recording. Although I use a tool that simply records as a .webm ( https://github.com/thetarkus/WebMCam ) Most people aren't going to be installing random Github projects to meet their needs. I doubt many people even know what Github is outside of the tech niche. :P So they record with some other desktop recorder that outputs as a .gif or .mp4/.m4a and then would need to convert from there.
Also Imgur's .gifv wrapper seems to be more widely known than .webm. Which is unfortunate but is the case due to Imgur's popularity.