Vine, Twitter's new video app, has gotten mixed reviews. Some think it's a successor to the GIF, or that it's the "Instagram of video" the tech industry has been waiting for. Others think it's just riding Snapchat's short-video wave, and making Twitter confusing. But one thing is certain: Vinepeek is awesome.
Vinepeek was not created by Vine or Twitter, so the site could easily get shut down. But for now it's up in all its simple glory. It presents, in a nearly unbroken stream, Vine videos as they're posted. Endless short clips, a maximum of six seconds long, shot by Vine users all over the world.
Most of the videos are unremarkable on their own, and you can spot some soon-to-be-groanworthy Instagram-style trends right off the bat. There are lots of stop-motion eating and drinking videos, for example, and plenty of people are clearly still trying to figure out what, if anything, they need to share via video.
But you don't have to wait long to find truly beautiful things. In the span of a few minutes, I saw a poorly attended church concert (above), a dance party from somewhere in East Asia, a jump-edited children's karate class, and a skit a man created about the terrible feeling of opening a refrigerator, hungry, and finding nothing you want to eat. In another, a father asked his young son what was on his mind. After pausing for a couple seconds the son blurted out, "I love you." Another user, three videos later, had filmed the toilet while he took a piss.
The overall effect is mesmerizing and eerie; the surprising clarity of the iPhone's microphone provides a constant assortment of low-mixed ambient sounds, punctuated by music and speech in countless languages. Perhaps most compelling is the sense of voyeurism you get — while these videos were posted to a public service, the app is new and unfamiliar and, like Instagram, feels somewhat insulated from the greater internet. Many of these videos were meant for small groups of friends to view with almost complete context. We get to see them with none.
It's not clear if Vine will be a success, or if Twitter is making the right choice in supporting it as a video platform. But Vinepeek is a forceful suggestion that Twitter is popularizing something new, and maybe wonderful.