Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

Instagram adds video, so what’s next for Vine?

When something gets trendy everybody wants to pile on the bandwagon, and it’s no different in the world of social media.

Instagram, the picture sharing service owned by Facebook, just added the ability to share video in their most recent update. The videos can be up to 15 seconds long, and you create them inside Instagram by recording little snippets of video until you’re happy. It wouldn’t be Instagram if it didn’t have filters, so you can then apply all sorts of goofy effects to your video before you post it.

The way it works feels very similar to Vine, which is the short video sharing service owned by Twitter. The difference there is, um… well, the videos are only six seconds long and there are no filters. But Vine has been gaining momentum the past few months so it came as no big shock that Facebook/Instagram would want to steal some of that action. The people at Vine have made some jokes about the new features and released their own teaser videos hinting at new features.

Check out the clip above to watch me discuss the whole affair (and the new Facebook comment images feature) with the crew at Fox 10 in Phoenix.

Will those features be something useful or just an attempt to re-differentiate themselves from Facebook? Who knows. Video apps are hot right now and there could be a lot more copycatting back and forth before the dust settles.

In the meantime it will be interesting to see how much of my Instagram feed turns from pictures to video, and what all those people do who just like to take pictures of their food. If they all start posting videos of them eating it, it’s going to get disgusting in a hurry.


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.

Take action – SOPA and PIPA could destroy the internet… really!

This may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) are two versions of legislation winding their way through Congress. Both are backed by the entertainment industry as a way (they say) to combat global video and music piracy.

The problem is this legislation is so vague it can give companies the power to order whole websites taken off the air for ANY sharing of content they feel violates their claims. Post a video of your kids with a movie poster in the background? That could get your blog taken down!

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Wikipedia, YouTube, and hundreds of other huge sites oppose SOPA and PIPA. They could not exist if this legislation had existed when they were founded. Sharing ideas and content is how the internet works!

That’s why many of these sites, like Reddit and Wikipedia, are going entirely dark on Jan 18th, 2012, in protest of this bill.

This video does a great job of explaining PIPA, and SOPA is generally the same thing (House vs Senate versions).  Watch this, and please contact your congressman and tell them to oppose this legislation!
Don’t rely on someone else to do this – if you love what the internet has to offer, take action!

UPDATE: I was on Fox 10 this morning here in Phoenix to talk about SOPA/PIPA. If you are looking for a good introduction to what is SOPA to pass on to friends or family, this video might help!

Plan less and explore the unexpected

There’s a time for planning, and a time to riff. Planning helps you construct something specific, when details of your product are known. Creativity is often focused in the early phases of creation and limited once plans are set.

Riffing (or improvising) has boundaries and constraints, but the final product isn’t known until the end. Creativity lives throughout the process, but scope and attributes are sometimes limited by the lack of systematic planning.  This method is often scarier, which is why planning is so popular.

Before the most recent Ignite Phoenix, I ran around with a Flip camera and asked people to “show me what love looks like”.  Valentine’s Day loomed, and I thought it would stir some interesting reactions. It certainly did.

I ended up with about 15 minutes of clips and bits of people swooning, smooching, hearting, and being silly. These were people improvising to an improvised idea, and it showed. Brilliantly.

Unfortunately, I still had no plan what to do with all this great footage. Thankfully local Phoenix band, Super Stereo, provided a piece of the puzzle when they generously donated one of their tracks to the Phoenix music compilation CD. I got their permission to use a track and started seeing how things lined up with the footage.

It was pure, silly, fun creation. I had no vision for how this would turn out, and was along for the ride as things fell together. What I ended up with was a light little music video that showcased a lot of Ignite fans and friends having fun. A visual love letter.

It’s entirely not what I had in mind when I started, and it’s not going to win any awards, but I think it’s great. Could I have scripted it out all in advance, asked people to do specific things, and paced it better? Sure, but I wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun.

Creativity is as much about the process as the final product. Let go of your planning sometimes, explore, and see where it leads you. You may love it.