Twitter video app actually pretty great

WILL OREMUS
Last updated 12:38 28/01/2013
Vine
VINE: Already, some are already hailing Twitter's video app as the Instagram of video.

Relevant offers

Digital Living

State of a tech-savvy union: Obama's tech policy wish list How Tennis Australia is using information to improve the game Microsoft Windows 10 launch: Has the trusty ol’ Redmond dog learnt new tricks? Founder of notorious 4chan website retires as administrator A short history of Obama trying (really hard) to look cool online Microsoft to give away Windows 10, unveils hologram glasses Ta-da! Microsoft unveils Windows 10 Microsoft handed FBI data on Charlie Hebdo probe in 45 minutes Facebook clamps down on fake news stories Microsoft buys data analysis start-up Equivio

OPINION: If you're a Twitter user, you've probably noticed this week that your stream is unusually cluttered with boring videos of people making faces or sitting at their desks. That's Vine, Twitter's new video app.

Already, some are already hailing it as the Instagram of video. For now, though, it's available only on the iPhone and iPad Touch.

As BuzzFeed was quick to point out, most people's first Vine posts (Vines? Vinestagrams?) are, to put it politely, inessential.

Mercifully, they're also brief - Vine videos max out at six seconds in length. To counter the "blink and you've missed it" problem, the videos loop endlessly, leading some to compare them to GIFs, the '80s-vintage looping video snippets that have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

But if Vines share with GIFs the qualities of brevity and repetition, their purpose is fundamentally different, largely because of the way you create them.

To make a GIF, you start with a conventional video, then use an editing tool like Adobe Photoshop to pluck from it that single perfect moment that you want to preserve for all time.

In short, GIFs are the product of video-editing carried to its logical extreme. The process is reductive.

Vines, in contrast, are constructive.

That is, you build a Vine by shooting little bits of video on the fly: two seconds here, two seconds there, two seconds over yonder, and you've got your end result. It's likely to be choppy, a little sloppy, imperfect.

But it's immediate.

The next step is not to edit but to share - on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Vine itself, which for now will be a standalone app with its own community (think Instagram) rather than a baked-in Twitter feature.

The absence of an edit function helps explain why most people's first Vines are so bad.

It also means that there are some things you can do with GIFs that you'll never be able to do with Vines.

My colleagues Forrest Wickman and Chris Wade, for example, will not be coming out with a "Classic Cinema in 3 Vines" post anytime soon.

Then again, you'll never see anyone break news via a GIF-something that seems sure to happen via Vine on an increasingly regular basis if the service takes off. It's easy to envision Vines replacing still photos (via Instagram, Twitpic, etc.) as the primary mode of real-time visual communication on Twitter.

Ad Feedback

In a few months TV pundits could be somberly discussing the latest grim Vines to come out of Syria.

That the first Vines are mostly goofy and/or superficial should not lead anyone to dismiss the app's potential. If you'll recall, the first tweets weren't exactly high art either.

In time, Vine's six seconds could become, to borrow a phrase from CNET's Daniel Terdiman, the new atomic unit for instant video communication.

-Slate

Comments

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content