Tech journalists spent Thursday playing with, writing about, and reviewing Twitter?s clever and simple new system for video posts, Vine. But academics are keenly interested in Vine too, saying the extreme constraints it imposes on video could produce an explosion in video sharing.

There?s big potential in Vine, say the two experts in online socialization we spoke to, but it?s unclear how, and how often, people will use the six-second video service.

?My guess, given the enthusiasm for Twitter so far, is that people are going to do really cool things,? says Scott Klemmer, who co-directs the Human-Computer Interaction Group at Stanford University. ?One of the things we know about creativity is that constraints are essential for getting people to do creative stuff. If you come up with the right constraints, that?s a benefit, not a drawback. And nobody knows that better than Twitter, where their 140-character constraint really created a whole new medium in a lot of ways.?

?Will six-second videos be that? Who knows? But I think it?s a pretty darn interesting constraint.?

Twitter didn?t explain the reasoning behind its six-second video limit in an official announcement of Vine on Wednesday, but it?s easy to see what Twitter is trying to do if you consider the context in which Twitter itself launched seven years ago. Back then, many people wrote on the web via blogs, where posts could be of any length. But they seemed to post more frequently and freely when confined to small bursts, for example in the short status updates that caught fire on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. When Twitter launched in 2006, its strict insistence on short posts unleashed a torrent of fresh writing.

There was a practical reason for Twitter?s limit; the messaging network, particularly in its earliest incarnations, leaned heavily on cell-phone texting, which imposes hard limits on message length. But Twitter?s creators kept the limit in place long after most of its users had migrated to using the service via the web. ?We?re fond of constraints that inspire creativity,? co-creator Jack Dorsey told in 2007.

The subsequent success of Twitter?s microcontent model ? attracting hundreds of millions of users, including an enviable collection of well known names across many creative fields ? would seem to bode well for Vine. But it?s hard to predict what form its success might take. When Twitter launched, conventions for replies, retweets and hashtags had not been created, to say nothing of the more obscure subcultures and conventions that have emerged along the way. The medium emerged organically, and it would seem Twitter is trying to allow the same thing to happen with Vine.

?Twitter was built on the premise that constraints produce unexpected outcomes as people get creative,? says Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and longtime academic studying social media. ?Part of what makes [Vine] interesting is who knows what will come out of it ??

One thing, at least, is clear: People will not communicate in video on Twitter the same way they communicate in text.

?Video lets you show things,? says Klemmer. ?For me at least, it would be much more pointing a camera out at the world than reading a monologue? It would be here?s the sunset tonight, or check out this crazy thing that I saw.?

Thus far, people seem to be using Vine mainly to show off their desks and offices. But then again, people initially used Twitter to report their every mundane move throughout the day: Eating lunch, going to the park, catching a movie. It was hard at the time to imagine what more could be done with 140 characters. It turned out, there was quite a lot more to say, and it will be interesting to see what more there is for people to shoot.

Source : Weird


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