People love to share. We have shared pictures forever. Are you old enough to remember the home slide shows of people vacations? If not, I'm sure you've passed around printed photos to family and friends. Now we do the majority of that online.
Videos are also popular, both for sharing and watching. According to Google:
The problem with videos are that they are time consuming, both to create and watch. This morning I uploaded a video of a piano recital that four of my family members participated in. Apple's iMovie helped make it relatively easy, but I still spent about 15 minutes editing it, including minor audio adjustments. Then it took another 15 minutes create the final video and upload it to YouTube. It took less time than such a project would have 10 years ago but it wasn't quick. That is why most videos posted online are raw/unedited, straight from their smartphone.
That is where animated GIFs come into play. Just as Twitter introduced succinctness to a wordy email world, these short, animated photos present a story, albeit a short story, in a very small amount of time. It still requires special software and a bit of work to create animated GIFs. Fortunately, the tools (i.e. software) are getting easier and quicker to use.
Google recently added an Auto-Awesome feature that automatically generates animated GIFs from similar photos uploaded to your Google+ account. All I had to do to create the Tickle GIF you see in this post, was take about 10 photos and let them auto-upload to my Google+ account. Thanks to Google, I have numerous animated GIFs by simply doing what I normally do: take lots of pictures (usually to get the one good one).
This is also the appeal to Vine. Vines are short, six second, videos that can be recorded in one step or multiple start/stop sessions for an output similar to an animated GIF. The Vine has quickly found a place amongst the creative and big business: Mashable reported that:
The Wolverine director James Mangold is a big tease. On Monday, he shared a six-second Vine, which serves as the teaser for Tuesday's 20-second teaser for the movie's trailer that arrives Wednesday. He's calling the six seconds of looping video a "tweaser."
Unfortunately, to view Vines you need to use the Vine smartphone app (i.e. they are not animated via the web browser). While that may seem like a shortcoming, I'm betting that there's a reason for this limitation: to control access and probably try to monetize it.
There is money to be made in keeping it short and sweet... or as it appeals to me: saving people time, one of the most important, non-replenishable resources of our lives.