Impressions Can’t Ripen on Vine

Posted on May 28, 2013

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If each of us had to pick six seconds from our lives to represent ourselves to the world, what would we choose?

Vine, the recently launched service that enables members of the Twitterverse to produce eternally looping six-second videos, has spawned creative cinematography that ranges from (very) brief fashion shows to animated-video baseball cards. Those who successfully pluck six meaningful seconds from the Vine app to loop forever in the Twitter database must be not only extraordinarily imaginative but also exceptional students of human nature. I mean, if first impressions of people are made within seven seconds of a real-world meeting, a Vine video certainly tells Twitter followers a tremendous amount about our individuality, preferences and attitudes in its six-second run.

That fact led me to this inevitable question: If each of us had to pick six seconds from our lives to represent ourselves to the world (whether openly or subconsciously), what scene or montage would we choose?

Many of us, I suppose, would focus on career achievements—the acceptance of an award, the completion of an artistic work or the launch of a product. Others might focus on family, with a scene from the dinner table, a vacation or a reunion. Our school days, our hobbies our encounters with celebrity (and celebrities) all could be subject matter for a Vine video about ourselves. We could, in effect, package a Vine-driven video resume, with six-second clips embedded in each section as pint-sized highlight reels.

Whatever topic we might choose for our introductory swing at Vine, I believe its production would be very instructive to us in understanding how we judge the people we meet.  We need to understand that the first impression is a snapshot, and the subject of the picture has dressed for the occasion, with clothes, vocabulary and body language selected based on a preconceived idea of what the encounter demanded. To me, it all sounds like a pretty tentative script on which to form an opinion of someone.

As the Web and mobile devices continue to shift toward ever-shorter video content—video that really can provide only glimpses—we should always keep in mind that no one’s contributions to society and business can be wrapped into six seconds, any more than it can be in 140 characters. Vine can become a video calling card, but it is only a predecessor to the more extensive communication that is essential to understanding a product, service or person.

Twitter has shortened our written communications, and Vine is on the verge of truncating our video communications. Instead of a movie that tells the story of a company or an individual, we need to realize we are receiving only photographs, representing moments in time. Grapes may ripen on the vine, but discovering their true potential requires months and years of aging.

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