Given how information is being consumed as quickly as possible, a six-second video sharing app known as Vine sounded like a fitting addition to the social media industry when it was introduced in 2013. Yet, with such a strict time constraint, creators were desperate to produce content which could be the next viral hint (‘do it for the Vine’ became a phrase which mocked and tapped into this notion). The app then became overpopulated with pranks, wacky dancing videos and slapstick comedy. Vine had its moments – with personalities appearing over its three-year lifespan – but everyone knows comedy cannot be forced. Therefore, it’s no surprise that yesterday, Twitter took the decision to discontinue Vine.
In a blog post in January 2013 by Vine’s co-founder, Dom Hofmann, he shared his belief that “constraint inspires creativity”. Twitter’s 140-character limit works because we can be creative with words regardless of restraints. Video, on the other hand, is much harder to limit without impacting creativity. We can use sentences and paragraphs of various lengths to communicate a message via. text, but when most videos explore stunning scenery or convey an important message, six seconds is simply not enough.
Vine tapped into a branch of social media which was on the rise. Snapchat’s ten-second messaging encouraged a new, fast-paced way of communicating, and looped GIFs have always lingered on the Internet. Twitter’s video app had to offer something different, so it messed around with looped videos with an even tighter limit of six seconds. Whilst it was popular in the short run, people soon returned to Snapchats and GIFs, with Vines only appearing should they be a massive viral hit.
There’s something to learn from Vine’s demise. Some mediums cannot be restrained – certainly not to six seconds. Twitter’s magic number of 140 just works and Snapchat’s success comes down to having those four extra seconds.
They know their limits; you can only restrict communication to a certain extent.