The benefits of limits: Vine’s interesting social video idea

20130210-210213.jpgI heard about the new social media video app Vine last week on Slate’s Culture Gabfest’s podcast, that week’s episode titled, aptly, Six Seconds of My Life Manage to Bore Even Me Edition. Since then, it has seemed to come up everywhere. Like when you buy a car and the notice how many there are on the highway, or when you learn a new word and then hear it used again right away. I’m beginning to think of it as the Dave Dies At The End effect.

Vine is a video creation app for iOS devices that lets you take a very short video, using a radically simple set of controls, play it back on a loop, and then post it to Vine, Twitter and Facebook. That’s about it. Not sure why this is cool, but it is, maybe because it takes away the auteur pressure of more complex video tools. You just point the iPhone at something, press the screen and the video captures, release, it pauses, press again, continues recording. Simple, but the results are oddly compelling. Stop motion, Daliesque artsy stuff, Grudge style Japanese horror vibe.Perhaps it’s the same way a “non-artist” (quotes suggest I’m not sure such a thing exists) will sit and doodle away with a pencil and ruled notebook paper, but freeze up with a canvas and set of oils. How much pressure can there be to be great with such a simple tool? Permission to be creative for fun.

The app’s been live a few weeks, and people are already writing copious posts about its potential uses for biz, marketing, etc. (Here’s a link I tweeted last week on using Vine for B2B content marketing, for example.) This feels a bit early, since the app hasn’t quite figured out how to filter out inappropriate content (you can guess what some people will do with six seconds and a camera), and how big can the user base be now? Also, the format seems slightly too short for really cool “how to” or product intro videos. But who knows, they add an Android app to the suite, capitalize on their relationship with twitter, build in some embed and better sharing features, and maybe this will be as big as it is interesting.

By the way, if you’re experimenting and want to delete a post, the method isn’t obvious. There are three little dots under the video in the app view. These allow you to delete or share a post.