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So What Is Vine? Your Guide To The New App Everyone Is Talking About

By / 02.05.13

Vine has arrived on iOS, and everybody’s talking about how amazing it is. We’re… a bit more skeptical. Here’s what it is, why you should care, and where the hype might be going a little wrong.

So, What Is Vine?

Vine is an app, currently only for iOS, that records six seconds of video and posts it on an endless loop to your Twitter account. Basically, it’s what happens when you decide what YouTube really needed to be was a series of GIFs.

Why Do People Find It So Compelling?

Check out Vinepeek, which strings together Vines uploaded in real time. That gives you a good idea of both the appeal and likely the downside of Vine.

…That Looked Like Flipping Channels If Every Stupid Internet Video Had Its Own Spot On The Dial.

Yep, pretty much.

So It’s Like All The Other “Instagram Except Video!” Apps?

Nope. It does the editing for you, there are no filters or ways to add external audio, the time limit is a hard six seconds, and the video loops constantly. It’s basically life unfiltered.

I Guess That Could Be Compelling.

A lot of people agree with you.

You Seem Skeptical.

Profoundly.

Why?

It’s like this: Yes, there are people who are using Vine in an effective and interesting way. And as a feature for Twitter, it’s definitely a way for the company to stand out from the pack without destroying people’s ability to scroll through their tweets, or expecting a mobile device to withstand a minute long YouTube video.

And having people post short videos about their life isn’t a bad thing, per se. But, first of all, there’s nothing more irritating than a narcissist who does nothing interesting: Do you care about all the photos posted to your Facebook feed, or on Instagram, every single day? And secondly, nobody’s really offered a compelling reason that it’s anything other than kinda neat.

So Why The Hype?

The key argument is that Vine will be used as a tool to help record acts as they happen, which is great and all, but it hasn’t actually happened yet. What is said about Vine is said about every single social network to come along, whether it makes sense or not.

It’s also a fallacious argument: Watching social media and YouTube become a place for citizen journalism has been amazing, but Twitter and YouTube aren’t sustained by citizen journalism. Twitter has stayed popular because it’s easier to use on a smartphone as a sort of bulk text message to people containing your thoughts, and frankly is more likely to have your friends and less likely to have your parents on it. YouTube has remained popular because it’s the most gigantic repository of video on the planet. Comparing Vine to either is hyperbole.

And it’s not like people don’t use their cameras to record and spread video quickly now. Vine is just another tool to do that. A much easier-to-use tool, and certainly an interesting one. It’s an app worth downloading.

But there’s also no reason to be over-the-top excited about it. It is a cool thing, that might be done to do some really cool things. But so far, that’s all it is: Potential. We’ll have to wait and see whether it becomes the next Facebook… or the next Friendster.


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