Automatic excitement: video as default

By now we all know that Twitter has killed off Vine, or is slowly killing off Vine, or has killed off part of Vine and will kill off the rest of it in the future. My initial reaction to this was pure joy, for I have long hated Vine. That enthusiasm was tempered by promptly hearing from source after source how Vine was a huge creative outlet for oft-ignored black youth. That my experiences never crossed paths with this version of Vine is purely a failing on my part, plain and simple. A wake-up call to attempt to be less complacent and lazy in my media consumption.

If I were left to my own personal experiences with Vine, however, I would still be delighted with the news. This is because, put simply, I have never watched a Vine and felt like I got anything out of the video that I did not get out of the screencap. This is not a problem unique to Vine by any means, it seems that increasingly we live in a world where video is considered the most captivating medium, thus all content should be video. Rather than letting a creative work dictate its own medium and leaving the excitement factor as the responsibility of the creator, video checks off that box from the get-go. I guess if audiences are largely eating it up, then that’s true enough and fair enough. But I wonder just how many people clicked Vine after Vine and felt that they weren’t getting an appropriate return on their time investment.

Vines are like six seconds long, I get it. ‘Time investment’ is kind of an overstatement. But the internet, and increasingly the world in general, is a place of instant gratification. And it’s more than just six seconds, it’s the UI/UX friction, it’s the mental load of processing said six seconds, it’s the failure to live up to expectations. All trivial things, but if an experience is disappointing, the less we have riding on that disappointment, the better. I’m speaking of Vine again, but only because speaking of Vine is easy1. This is universal to any work which forces itself into x or y medium for no reason other than being on trend.

I always try to figure out the most immediate way to connect with an audience. Start with basics and decide whether complicating the medium actually adds value. If it does, is there a way to simplify instead? To work with less while expressing more? I doubt this is an approach that can work universally, but… I still think there’s something to be said for minimalism in communication.

  1. Personal non-Vine example: I am so happy that the State of the Union addresses are transcribed. I can read them with a far lower time investment than watching them would entail. I have made a few exceptions for Obama since he’s just such a terrifically moving speaker. But most speeches, reading or hearing them is little-to-no value added, particularly when the time investment is factored in. ↩︎