Twitter is, if you think about it, the perfect company for the Internet Age. It provides a service no one actually needs, makes what was once private very public, and inflicts an arbitrary constriction on that service for no good reason whatsoever. And because of these deficiencies, it has eleventy billion users and gazillions of dollars – and when you add Vine to the mix, you can probably increase that amount by a couple of kazillion. On the other hand, we provide a service everyone needs, provide it with wry humor and intelligence, and we have eleven dollars (and some interesting stones) in our pocket and a handful of readers. And so it goes.
Vine: Visual Twitter
This is what makes Vine absolutely perfect for Twitter. Vine is, if you recall, the company that Twitter bought before their product had even launched. There’s a lot of hype around Vine; an easy guide to the articles to avoid reading would be any that describe it as “revolutionary” or “paradigm-shifting” or anything silly like that. Vine is basically an App that creates animated GIFs, so it’s using a technology that’s 25 years old and has been deprecated for 23 of those years.
But the Rise of the Animated GIF is why Vine is perfect for Twitter. First of all, it’s constrained, just like Twitter: Instead of 140 characters, you’re confined to six seconds of video. Six seconds is essentially useless for any sort of coherent storytelling (although the fine folks at 5secondfilms.com might argue that point), but it is enough to create humorous or disturbing images that will loop endlessly until you are driven mad and burn down your house. Just like everything else on Twitter.
Just as Twitter took the text message, limited it and made it public, Vine takes the animated GIF, limits it, and makes it public.
Vine: More Fun than a Bag of Monkeys
The genius of Vine, though, is that it’s a lot of fun. Is this an App you can’t live without? Of course not. But it’s an App that instantly sucks you in, because the bar for amusing when it comes to six seconds of stop motion animation is so damn low, literally anything you come up with will work.
Vine is simple to use: You point the camera at something, touch the screen, and Vine starts recording. Lift your finger, and it stops.
So you can either shoot live action for second seconds, or shoot something for a second or even less, adjust it, then shoot it again. Thus you can create seamless animations in about one minute, instantly upload them to your Twitter feed, and sit back and soak in the LOLs and the retweets.
Part of what makes Twitter and Vine work is that they provide a level playing field. Everyone’s tweets are the same length, everyone’s Vines are the same duration. All that differentiates your thoughts from everyone else’s is their quality and brilliance. Twitter and Vine are like a very public scratch pad – you have an idea, you instantly toss it out there to the masses, you instantly get feedback. Your bad ideas are quickly forgotten, buried by your Twitter Stream, your great ideas get retweeted and favorited endlessly. That’s the Internet in a nutshell, and that’s why Vine is brilliant.