Vine is just the 21st Century GIF

It’s impossible to ignore the rise of Vine, and the inevitability of the fact that hundreds of thousands of users will just use it to either post adult material or cats.

Yet, there’s something deeper about the Vine phenomenon, which takes it to the very heart of how we consume our media today. There’s a reason as to why GIFs have become so popular. Well there’s a couple, actually.

Internet connections are so fast now, that you can afford to have a webpage that automatically loads and plays a succession of looping images. Video clips are so old-school when you have to click play and then pause to finish watching it before the video reaches it’s natural conclusion.

So, when browsing the Vine app, what do we notice? Well, it actually handles GIFs better than browsing mobile websites on an iPhone, which keeps everything loading and repeating forever, losing battery life like sand through fingers. So the Vine app will only play the video which is in the main focus of the screen. Ingenious. It also has sound! Incredible!

This sounds facetious, but these are things which are just not possible for GIFs. The Graphics Interchange Format was developed as a way of looping graphics for logos and other associated website media. It was used as all those irritating CLICK HERE! flashing banners of the 90s and early 2000s. You know? Those things that gave you viruses or tried to install some irritating game centre on your computer.

So what makes Vine so different? Especially when you consider that GIFs have seen such a resurgence in popularity? I mean, tumblr is just one massive GIF, really.

It isn’t and that’s precisely my point. It really isn’t that different. Look at any one of the editors picks once you launch the app or ‘Popular Vines’ and you’ll see that the kind of things people are sharing are exactly what could be achieved with a GIF. There’s nothing different. There are very few six second videos on Vine which really benefit from the higher quality of the images or audio that the platform brings. You can even make stopmotion stuff using Vine, by tapping record very quickly and basically taking a photograph. It takes all the effort out of animation. The app then pieces everything together.

What really makes the difference? Always connected, mobile, with you at all times.

We’re constantly being told that the mobile revolution is here, and I’d agree. People will always have a large home computer or laptop, but the usage of tablets/smartphones will just continue to grow. It’s not that one medium will supersede the other, we’ll just be consuming more internet content than ever before.

The fact that you can create a Vine just from your pocket with very little effort at all makes the GIF seem completely clunky and outdated. I’m a pretty technical person, but even I have shied away from ever trying to make a GIF, you need specialist software, and it just seems generally time consuming. I could learn, but I have no interest to, so that’s the final nail in the coffin for me ever learning how to make a GIF.

I am yet to make my first Vine, mainly cause I’m still not entirely sold on the platform, but once I am, I’ll be intrigued to see how this new ‘art’ form (as the hipsters insist on calling it), will continue to grow.

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