Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

Twitter launches Vine… but what is it?

Vine logoRecently Twitter launched Vine, an app that allows people to quickly record and share very short videos.

This isn’t the first short-video service to hit the internet, but its tight relationship with Twitter may mean this the one that finally catches on.

How Vine works

It couldn’t get much simpler. You see your camera window on your phone, and just touch your screen to record. Lift your finger and it stops. This allows you to switch perspective or move around to cram as much as possible into your six-second video.

Yes, going off Twitter’s philosophy that shorter is better, six-seconds is all you get. Once you’ve recorded that much video you can share it out to the Vine network (which looks a little like Instagram), or onto Twitter or Facebook. The videos include sound, though it is sometimes off by default depending on where people watch it. It also loops endlessly, which can seem a little strange at first.

You can see how easy (and fun) it is to play with Vine in a video spot I did on a local TV station. Normally the do not get nearly this excited about the things I talk about, but Kristin Anderson made a Vine video live while we talked.

Right now the Vine app is free for the iPhone, but an Android app is coming soon. I also fully expect it to be integrated into the core Twitter app before too long.

How are people using Vine?

Vine started with lots of silly videos of people desks, but things escalated quickly. There are the usual videos of dogs and food, but the format makes it easy to play with things like stop animation. People are also playing with the looping effect, creating eternally playing little scenes and music.

Some companies and brands are using Vine, like NBC News, but these are just early adopters playing around. It’s too early to tell if this will catch on with companies or be a passing fad.

On the other end of the spectrum it didn’t take long for people to start recording porn on Vine. Vine fought back by limiting pornographic search terms, but just like every other image and video sharing site on the internet, porn will always be lurking somewhere.

Most interestingly to me (so far), is the site Vinepeek, which allows you to watch random, streaming Vines from around the world. It’s a weird, hypnotic, addictive site that lets you hop into stranger’s lives for six seconds at a time. Did I mention addictive? Yeah, watch at your own risk.

What’s next for Vine?

Their next steps will be getting clients out for Android, and developing the Vine community. I’d expect that community to start looking increasingly like Instagram as they make it easier to find friends, find new views, and explore. Ultimately the Vine community may end up combining with your Twitter followers if the Vine and Twitter apps combine into one.

What will really be telling is whether Vine keeps their dead simple interface or not. People are already asking for the ability to upload videos from your phone, Instagram-like filters, video time beyond six seconds, and lots more. The features Vine adds (or rejects) at this early stage could go a long way to shaping how many people really use Vine as part of how they share their lives, versus just a cute toy they play with and drop.

Personally, I’m looking forward to some creative people using the format in interesting ways. I like that Vine has it’s own style, and I don’t want it just becoming a mini YouTube. We shall see.