July 9, 2013
Micro-Videos Becoming Popular, But Why?
While George Herbert Leigh Mallory may or may not have uttered the words “because it’s there” when questioned why he’d want to climb a mountain, the fact remains that this argument is often used over and over.
Former President Bill Clinton admitted his affair with Monica Lewinsky “because he could,” and perhaps that is why so many people are now shooting short videos and posting them online for the world to see. CNN noted recently that Vine and Instragram — among other sites — have created a trend in micro-videos.
Several companies — including Viddy, Socialcam and most notably Twitter’s Vine — are all vying to be “the Instragram of video.” This, of course, is good, as it has lead to some innovation, including Vine’s efforts to allow users to splice Vines together.
However, this comes back to the original point – is it merely being done because it’s there, because we can? Sure, there are those moments that are ideal for six-second (or less) video loops. Seeing your baby’s first steps, for example, might lend itself to such a video.
Yet, as we reported back in February, it took less than a month for a more insidious use of micro-videos to show up – notably pornography. In fairness, whenever there is a new video technology that appears, porn isn’t far behind, but short-form videos quickly dominated Vine and caused the company to change the age rating on the iOS app from 12+ to 17+.
Moreover, the length of some of these micro-videos is also increasing. While Vine videos remain just six seconds, which Twitter contends is the perfect length, Viddy has expanded from 15-second to 30-second videos. This suggests that less isn’t, in fact, more.
The question here is that if 30 seconds is needed to tell the story, why limit it at all?
There is a reason, namely that mobile phones are where these videos are increasingly being viewed and bandwidth remains an issue. Hence the reason why isn’t so much because it’s there; but rather because this is what the bandwidth on the network can reasonably deliver.
Consider too that the promise of TV on phones has been a long time in coming. With each year, going back nearly a decade, we’ve heard the promise that this year will be the year that TV comes to phones. Yes, some people are watching sports, news and even movies on handsets. The truth is that the screen is often too small for much of what we want to view, and the fact remains that with new data caps, network capacity and delivery speeds, long-form video simply isn’t ideal on a handset.
Here is where the short-form video comes in. While some of the content can be amusing, inspiring or even disgusting – video is like art and how it will be “viewed” is very much in the eye of the beholder.
The worrisome thing is that six seconds can last a lifetime and perhaps some might not realize it. Just as celebrities and politicians have shown from tweeting without thinking, it isn’t too hard to see that posting a video — even at six seconds — could be enough to ruin a life. Ask Anthony Weiner, for example. Imagine what he could have done with six seconds, considering what he did with just a few photos.
And for the record… George Mallory died on Mount Everest. So those who say, “because it’s there,” should know that fact.
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