Technology

Vine – A New Video Sharing App

Vine app for video sharing

Social media has afforded us a relatively painless, uncomplicated way to fulfill several of our most basic instincts: to be with each other, to share our thoughts with each other, and to show each other what we’re up to right now. We used to share our musical tastes on Myspace. We now share photos of our kids on Facebook, our take on what’s happening now on Twitter, our photography on Instagram, and our videos on YouTube. All of this sharing amounts to data, and companies are trying to figure out how to understand or mine this data for actionable intelligence. Are we leaving a trail of bread crumbs for companies to follow? Flip the question around – can companies use social media to leave a trail of bread crumbs for consumers to follow? Can that be done without alienating them via repeating the pitch ad nauseum?

Speaking of Instagram, what made it so popular? I think it made taking everyday photos easy. It made sharing them fun. Instagram is its own social media community, so it gave you yet another avenue to share, pitch, etc. And if you share on Instagram and push to Twitter and Facebook, which I believe is a generally accepted “kill two birds with one stone” strategy, all the better. The act of sharing slightly filtered square photos with others resulted in Instagram selling to Facebook for $1 billion (which then turned in to some dollar amount south of there due to Facebook’s flagging share price).

What about video? Yes, we have YouTube, but with a 10-hour limit on videos (I’m assuming it’s 10 hours because that’s how long this video is), a shared link to a YouTube video could have you watching a 1-minute video or a 1-hour video. You don’t know what you’re getting into. We love watching videos on YouTube, but the shareability of said videos, especially when it comes to Twitter, is more of a miss than a hit. And it’s not difficult to share a short video on Twitter or Facebook, but it’s not overly easy either. I have found both services to be wonky when trying to upload even short videos.

I think Twitter was a bit freaked out when Facebook bought Instagram. Almost immediately, Twitter added the ability to filter your photos. Now they’ve launched a new video sharing app called Vine, and the feeling I got after first using it was similar to when I first tweeted and thought “Only 140 characters? This is crazy.” Then I made my second vine, and my third, and I got a little addicted.

It’s great fun. The beauty is in its ease. You get six seconds. No more, but less if you want – it looks like you can stop at 2.5 to 3 seconds. I think this is the breakthrough: no editing. Sorry if you want that, but no. To record, you point your phone at the subject and press the screen. Hold the screen to record, and let go to stop recording. Point it at something else, hold to record, depress your finger to stop. Do this until you’re either done, or six seconds is over. There’s a green progress bar that tells you how far along you are in the video. Each individual shot (video and sound) is automatically edited together. No editing! I think this is the hurdle many (like me) don’t want to jump over. I’m intimidated even by iMovie, much less Final Cut. I need to take the time to learn them, but I haven’t. Video editing is not currently part of my skillset. Vine does not require you to know how to edit video. I think it’s brilliant.

Brands like General Electric are giving it a try:


 
And Steve Hartman and I have made a few feeble attempts to learn the app and have some fun too:

 

 

 

A couple of thoughts:

1. As stated above, it’s easy to use. No editing required – in fact, no editing offered. If you mess up, you have to delete and start over.

2. Remember audio when creating your vine. Sound will be a part of your vine, unless it’s dead silent where you’re recording. I have a rubber case on my iPhone, and I noticed some tapping sounds in my videos. I think I’m tapping on my phone’s back when I’m pressing and depressing my finger on the screen, and the mic is picking it up.

3. Remember audio when watching a vine. Note that vines just start playing when you scroll one onto your screen (either phone or computer). If you’re watching on Twitter, the default volume is usually mute. Be sure to unmute to enjoy the full experience, such that it is. If you’re watching on the Vine app, it looks like the default is not mute – volume is up. You can touch the screen to pause the video. As the videos play on a loop, it can get rather annoying to listen to the same audio over and over and over. Pausing the video or turning down your phone’s volume will stop the pain.

4. As General Electric showed us above, this is a (very) quick and easy way to show some personality. Companies, take note.

5. I do not believe you can embed vine videos. I can’t find it anywhere in the app. If you’re going to want to embed them, you’ll have to be sure to push them to Twitter when uploading/publishing. Then, you can embed the tweet, as I did above.

6. If you have 15 tabs open in your browser, and one of them has a vine running with sound, whoa that is annoying. Just try finding it!

7. I think six seconds, versus 10 seconds or an unlimited amount of time, makes you more creative. But also, it makes the whole experience less intimidating. No storyboards here – just a quick mental visualization of what you want to do, and go.

8. When you’re starting out on Twitter, they restrict the number of people you can follow to 2,000. In order to follow more than 2,000, you have to get some followers for yourself – within 90% of 2,000, which is around 1,830 followers. Once you exceed 1,830 followers yourself, you can begin following more. Vine does not appear to have that restriction. I just had someone follow me on Vine with 2,174 followers, but he’s following over 46,000. So it appears you can follow as many users as you want.

9. If you want to search Vine’s hashtags, go to Explore. Click on tags to search for tags. Do NOT include the “#” pound sign in your search. Vine will not recognize the # sign. So if you want to search for “sports,” just type sports. Do not type #sports.

10. As I allude to above, when someone invites you to watch a YouTube video, you have no idea what kind of time commitment you’re making until you click. With Vine, you are assured of spending a maximum of six seconds. It reminds me of Holiday Inn and McDonald’s. Back in the day, when traveling across the country, you could count on being able to stop at a Holiday Inn and get a good night’s rest. When the kids are fussy, you know you can’t miss with McDonald’s. This uniformity of experience is a competitive advantage. Yes, there are features missing from Vine, and it’s deliberate.

I’ve been using the app for a mere 24 hours. My take is that it could get really old really quickly, but I do feel it has promise. We’ll see some amazing creativity over the next few months as more people start using it, and I’m hoping some brands find new ways to tell their story, six seconds at a time.

UPDATE: After 48 hours of using Vine, something really weird happened to me. I booted up Instagram, and I wanted the pictures to move. They’re not gonna move – it’s still photography. There was a picture of a coffee mug, and I wanted something to happen. I wanted to see and hear the coffee being made, poured into the cup, something … it was a very odd and telling feeling.

UPDATE 2: A few ideas for Vine: adding embed code for each vine (or video, if you don’t want to call them “vines”), allowing a Vine user to get a URL for a particular vine so they can share it on their own social media channels, adding the ability to do video responses in the comments (maybe limited to 3 seconds), adding filters to videos (which YouTube offers, kudos to Steve Hartman for that idea).

Some resources for you:

Chris Brogan’s list of 11 things a business could do with Vine.

Mashable did a story on brands using Vine.

Here is an unfiltered feed of the latest vines being created. Caution: this is unfiltered. Do not click on this unless you are prepared to see anything.

Speaking of unfiltered, the porn industry is not ignoring Vine, which is causing Vine and the Apple Store some sleepless nights.

The Washington Post discusses Vine.

Boston.com did a nice piece on Vine and included some local videos.

Read Ann Handley’s take on Vine – I like what she had to say. It’s simple, the constraints are brilliant, it’s foolproof and flexible.

And I was on Fox 2 TV to talk about Vine. We even shot one live on the air.

What do you guys think? Let us know what you like and dislike about the service by leaving a comment below. And leave a comment with your Vine username so we can find you!

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Blue Marble Images

Thanks to NPR’s Science Friday host Ira Flatow and multimedia editor Flora Lichtman for a fascinating look at how those inspiring and iconic images of the earth as seen from space are made. The segment discussed the history of these images since the first “earth rise” photo in 1968; there’s technical information about how the modern images are compiled from datasets, not photographs; and there are even little secrets about how the gaps are filled in. That will appeal to my designer friends! My favorite is the “pale blue dot” segment in the video, in which my hero, Carl Sagan, identified the earth as a “mote of dust in a sunbeam.”

 

Audio of the story on NPR can be found here, and is embedded below.

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Google Art Project

No Woman, No Cry by Chris Ofili from the Tate Britain.

An unbelievable resource debuted February 1, 2011: Google Art Project – www.googleartproject.com. Fabulous works from 17 (so far) museums worldwide are available in incredibly high resolution. Besides viewing the artwork, you can explore the museums via virtual tours. You can create and share your own collections. Here’s a link to the visitor’s guide: www.googleartproject.com/c/faq.

The accompanying images show the amazing amount of detail these high-resolution images capture. And – you can see in the frame of reference in the lower right that I’m framed in only about half of the way. Here’s a link to the actual image you see above: http://www.googleartproject.com/museums/tate/no-woman-no-cry

 

Where do you want to start exploring? Beware: Time bandit!

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A New Look at Old Technology

I’ve just finished reading a great book on human nature that has many fascinating implications for both design and social spaces. The book is called “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions.” It’s written by Dan Ariely and I can’t recommend it enough.

For a preview of his insights into behavioral science, here’s a link to a talk of his at TED on the subject of decision making:
http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions.html.