Twitter unveiled its latest project on Thursday: A video sharing service called Vine that allows users to post a single six-second clip, or a montage of equal length.
Living (for now) on the Internet and the iPhone as a separate social network, Vine will integrate closely with Twitter and Facebook, delivering video snippets that behave like an animated GIF with sound.
Videos are kept short to simplify the creative process and facilitate sharing, but some clever tricks prevent these limitations from becoming too overbearing.
Instead of using a typical "record" button to capture footage that you then have to trim down or stitch together, you simply touch the Vine app's screen to record and let go to stop. While you capture video, a progress bar along the top fills up as you approach the six-second mark.
When you finish, no editing is necessary.
The iPhone app itself is solid. Its clean design and easy-to-use interface make it something anyone can pick up.
But it doesn't seem like a visionary solution to making video creation fit into our lives, the way Instagram instantly tapped into our shutterbug-and-share instincts. Vine is more of a lofty attempt to see what sticks.
If you've spent any time following technology and the Internet, you've heard nerds, pundits, analysts, investors and entrepreneurs all droning on about the "Instagram of video." Viddy, Socialcam and even ill-fated Color tried to claim the crown.
It's an idea that seems great on paper, but in actual reality is probably best left untouched.
Dealing with video begs for devices with more storage space, faster Internet connections, more powerful processors and bigger batteries. Those are just the teeny problems, though. The big one is that it's unbelievably hard to make bad video remotely appealing.
The biggest virtue of Instagram -- and before that, Hipstamatic -- isn't the sharing aspect. It's that it makes our horrible, banal photography appear skilled and intriguing. Haphazardly capturing lightning in a bottle is easier because you only have to grab a single moment and pancake it in digital makeup.
With Vine, we're tasked with capturing 180 consecutive moments, exposed bare to the world.
And in turn, we're expected to spend a minimum of six seconds consuming every video in our feed. This could get laborious.
Well-made as Vine is -- this is a service people will probably use -- it just doesn't have the metal to become a cultural craze that demands our participation.