Twitter is a Platform, Vine is a Genre, Video is a medium

Vine is a useful and interesting new genre of video content in a world of new and interesting distribution platforms.

Vine is a useful and interesting new genre of video content in a world of new and interesting distribution platforms.

There’s an interesting article on Re-code today about Dick Costolo’s comments on Vine. The author suggests that Vine will compete with Twitter’s native Video offerings but I don’t think so. The way I think of it is this: Twitter is a Platform, Vine is a Genre and Video is a medium.

Twitter is a distribution platform. With Twitter, you can distribute images, video, audio and text. Consumers or businesses can subscribe, publish and curate. The Twitter platform has a public communications role that feels more like a technology protocol than a social network per se. In my view, Twitter is wrong to compete with Facebook as a social network. Instead, it should be viewed as an OS or base protocol for global communications in an iPhone era where humans and machines are converging. It’s true that this would be received negatively on Wall Street – since the platform would essentially be admitting defeat vis-a-vis users and Facebook.

But in the longer run, it might allow Twitter to weave itself even more valuably into the global communications value chain. Imagine if Twitter could do for global communications what LinkedIn has done to corner the white collar labor market.

In fact, Twitter is an ideal upgrade to a content syndication technology that geeks call RSS. RSS is an open protocol for content distribution that has been around for a long time, but hasn’t really evolved much over the years. But unlike RSS, Twitter is (somewhat) understandable by regular humans – giving it a unique role in the revolution happening in human machine interface, where our 2nd screens are increasingly becoming our 2nd brains.

So what’s Vine? Vine is like MTV. It’s really just a bunch of cool people that have figured out how to express themselves with looping video in 6 seconds – and given a huge stage upon which to do so. (I can’t wait for them to roll out their next product – Vine12, which is just a figment of my imagination, where 12 seconds is the next logical length of time to get an interesting message across.)

The fact is, Vine is an example of the emotional and creative power that is unleashed when our social mobile platforms collide with the creativity of video. In my humble view, Twitter should be planting a million Vines – and I suspect that the native video teams at Twitter are busy doing just that. It ought to be easy for them to do so – because the difference between a Vine and Video is simply a matter of editing. And we live in an age of increasingly useful cloud video editing tools – and a generation of kids that are becoming expert at the medium.

Let’s see if this framework works for other networks.

Facebook? Facebook is the platform. Instagram is a Genre. Images are the medium. (Is anyone using Instagram for video?)

YouTube? A bit tougher. It’s definitely a platform. But it’s also a bit of a Genre – if you count UGC in the broadest sense. In fact YouTube’s done a great job in generating a unique mixture of content & distribution that has birthed many new Genres, from Twitch to ‘unboxing’ videos. (Too bad they weren’t able to acquire Twitch.)

Tumblr? Pinterest? You tell me. I barely have time for the few social networks that I do use.


Expert in video tech, TV biz, prototyping, product strategy, marketing & sales.

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