Twitter-owned Vine walks across the playground. It's a hot day and they're holding a delicious ice lolly. A breeze moves across the hot hopscotch covered surface. Suddenly, as if they have just traveled in via a waft of dust, Facebook owned Instagram makes a move, palming the chilly treat out of Vine's hands. Instagram walks away cackling, back into the heated nether. But our hero, Vine, is unphased as they know where the ice lollies are kept.
That knowledge is the difference between Instagram and Vine. It's also the reason Vine will always come out on top.
In a short history of the social cosmos, Vine appeared at a perfect time when the sharing masses were getting giddy with GIFs, falling in love all over again with the condensed moving picture medium.
Vine allowed people to create a six-second looping clip (with audio) and post it to a profile and then share on all the other social outlets what's for dinner tonight. Building on Instagram's starting point, this time the spaghetti moves.
The craft and creativity demonstrated by the Vine community has proven nothing short of astonishing considering the limitations of the format. The six-second audio and visual splendor combined with a good solid loop creates a hypnotic moment in time and space, captured for everyone to enjoy.
Now compare that with what Instagram video sets as a challenge to the user - 15 seconds of video, no looping. At just under three times as much capture time I can't help but feel that it loses the instantness, the snapshot quality that Instagram primarily championed and that Vine ran with using moving images.
The need for rules
Of course there is a point to be made about audience behavior and what scientists believe is the most popular common length of time that viewers are prepared to watch clips of others' lives, but the point I'm trying to make is rooted in the earth of creativity itself inside the platforms themselves.
A simple and detailed set of rules and constraints make creative people strive that much harder to get a great design result, whereas comparatively having a wide open brief with no limits can actually be counterproductive and tarnish the outcome.
Vine's time limitation forces focus on the detail and provokes a loop of exciting results. Instagram video for me is nine seconds too long, itself becoming possessed by the spirit of an 1980s shoulder-mounted Betamax video camera.
Allow me to leave you with this final thought; would this Vine video - a six-second loop of pure canine bliss - be as endearing if it lasted 15 seconds and stopped?
Words and illustration: Will Aslett
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Do you agree with Will about Vine and Instagram? Give us your thoughts in the comments below...