The Twittering class moves on
In a sign of our times, a video version of Twitter that allows anyone to share moments of their lives in short, 12 second video clips is gaining traction among the geek crowd.
The site, 12seconds.tv, lends weight to the increasingly common view that we are the most narcissistic age ever. What's more, the plethora of information available on the web has trained us to seek instant gratification, dipping in and out of sites within seconds if the content doesn't immediately grab our attention.
And 12seconds founder Sol Lipman is more than happy to ride the wave of what former Microsoft researcher Linda Stone dubbed "continuous partial attention".
"Twitter is leading a revolution in how people communicate with each other and I think we're riding that wave right now," said Lipman, who argues that anything more than 12 seconds is usually boring.
"We're all about status updates and we're all about sharing short bursts of video moments ... you don't need to watch a 10 minute video of your friends at the bar - broadcasting 12 seconds is plenty."
Lipman would not say how many users the site had but said the number of members was doubling every month for the last three months.
Users simply record a 12 second video using their PC webcam or mobile phone and send it straight to the site via email or MMS. The site takes care of the rest and can automatically publish a link to the video on the user's Facebook page, Twitter account or blog.
Most recent phones are supported - even the iPhone, which is not capable of taking video. A free 12seconds iPhone App available on Apple's iTunes App Store lets people take three photographs and record a short audio clip, which is then processed into a pseudo-video.
"For the [video] creator, with 12seconds, you don't really have to think about 'Is this video too long, is it too short, do I add music, how do I edit it?' - it's so easy to create video, and that I think is our core value proposition," said Lipman.
People have shared anything from concert clips to Barack Obama's inauguration. A hotel and restaurant in New York uses the site every morning to show prospective diners their lunch special, while another user takes care of the wine pairing based on the special.
12seconds doesn't yet have the celebrity following of Twitter but rapper Soulja Boy has published two clips, while Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Imogen Heap uses it to give fans a visceral glimpse into her normal life.
Lipman started the site last year with two buddies, Jacob Knobel and David Beach, who works in a senior position at Yahoo in the US. Lipman and Knobel have other jobs too as - like many web startups, particularly in this economic climate - 12seconds has yet to find a business model.
"We're launching our revenue model in about one month," Lipman said.
This week, Britain's Times Online made waves by publishing a feature on Twitter quoting a clinical psychologist who said that "Twittering stems from a lack of identity".
In the same story, a cognitive neuropsychologist said: "Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won't cure it."
Lipman said those comments may be true but at the end of the day people's attraction to sharing the minute details of their lives on services like Facebook, Twitter and 12seconds stemmed from a desire to connect with people and build a community - whether it's online or offline.
"To some extent we're all lonely people and I think that this is just another avenue for people to connect."
Sydney Morning Herald