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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

12Seconds Completes its Fifteen Minutes

Okay, I'm sure the title of this post is a bit trite, and has probably already been used, but I couldn't resist. For those who missed it, is (soon to be was) a micro-vlogging site, headquartered in Santa Cruz, CA, for the past three years or so, that yesterday announced they will be closing shortly.

Micro-vlogging? Let me explain it this way: What Twitter is to Blogger, was to YouTube. A video sharing site, but with the length of each video limited to, you got it, twelve seconds.

After a well-publicized launch it looked like was off to a good start, but the user-base never grew beyond the over-eager early adopter crowd (such as myself). Meanwhile, one founder was distracted with a new baby, the other founder battled cancer (he's feeling much better now), and the entire worldwide economy crashed.

Technical problems were also an issue, and certainly one of the problems I didn't use the site much after the initial rush. But the twelve second limit itself was an issue as well. Tweeting is easy and does not take much set-up or any time at all to post. Turning on your webcam, or even an iPhone app, getting lighting right, checking for background noise... it all takes a little more effort, including uploading your product only to find that you really needed 13 seconds.

Meanwhile, others have stepped up to fill the "post video to twitter" category without the twelve second limit.

An article today in the Guardian UK asks, "As closes, what is the future for video communities?" The article also notes that Seesmic has shifted focus from its original video service as well, but in so doing points out that:
"... community [is] humanised by the format of video which, while it demands more from its contributors, gives back more in the quality of interaction."
I think that quote says it all. The quality of the interaction is what it's all about. Yes, it takes a certain type of person to be willing to turn on your webcam, shine the light in your own face, and talk to strangers. It's certainly not for everyone. But I know I've been rewarded for that effort with high quality friendships.

While I often have trouble convincing my contemporaries of that fact (my collaborators here excepted), I have always had faith that the next generation will understand it innately. The Guardian article quotes Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jason Calacanis as saying very much the same thing:
"The next generation will be able to do it more inherently, they will grow up knowing phones with Facetime and computers with iSight. Where our generation knows how to write a good quip in a comment, the next generation will know how to do that in video."
Today we say goodbye to, but not to online video, or using video as the basis for building online community. In fact, that journey has barely yet begun.


  1. Glad to be reminded that I'm not the only one who has trouble getting through to my contemporaries (fun word!) the real value of 'putting myself out there' in streaming video form.
    Well written piece as always.

  2. Good post Ken. I'll admit, i never did "get" 12 seconds. Sure, i opened an account, just like you & then quickly abandoned it & for all the reasons you stated. I guess that as someone who regularly posts 10 minute videos, that's hardly surprising!
    I had a feeling 12 seconds was a little bit gimmicky, rather than having much substance. 140 characters are far more useful than 12 seconds.
    And 12 seconds just isn't really long enough for anyone. Just ask any woman!