I'm Drew Breunig and I obsess about technology, media, language, and culture. I live in New York, studied anthropology, and work at PlaceIQ.

Why Vine & Other “Instagrams for Video” Won’t Catch On

The math doesn’t work:

Let X equal the amount of feedback needed for the average mass user to continue producing video.

Likes, retweets, stars, pick your poison. Without feedback, people will feel like they’re posting to a vacuum, being ignored by network, and will quickly stop posting.

Let Y equal the average duration of a video, the time required to watch it.

If Y is too long the average user will only be able to process and feedback on a small percentage of the content in their feed, X will suffer and people will quickly stop posting.

Let Z equal the amount of content needed to be produced to guarantee enough interesting content to encourage users to keep using the network.

If Z is not met people will be bored by the network and spend less time there, causing X to be unmet, causing people to stop posting, further hurting Z. (etc.)

Z is dependent on A, which is the ratio of valuable content to total content for the given network, the signal to noise if you will.

If A is not high enough users will be forced to crawl through piles of junk to find something of interest. Which they will not do for long. They will spend less time on the network, X will not be met, and people will quickly stop posting. This problem becomes compounded if Y is too high.

These variables are all dependent on one another. And all of these variables apply to all social networks.

But the problem with video social networks lies in variable Y: it takes much too long and too much attention to consume a single unit of content. This results in less feedback, which dries up the volume of content, which needs to be high to maintain a cache of enticing videos. And the network fails.

It is possible to balance this equation, but I have yet to see anyone come close with a mass network1. Vimeo thrives because it’s quality ratio, A, is astoundingly high. It’s core users are few, talented, and otherwise motivated (aka, require a lower X. They’re getting feedback elsewhere).

But dropping a video social network atop Twitter’s population is another matter entirely. It will only be a matter of weeks before people are trained not to click on Vine links because they’ll be expecting mediocrity. It’s not like Instagram where we can quickly scroll by images. The consumption cost for video is high, too high to create a sustainable mass network of creators. No matter how much we’d like them too, videos will never take off like pictures.

  1. YouTube is an odd duck. It’s more akin to Wordpress than Tumblr, a media network more than a social network. I wouldn’t compare it to Vine or any of the other “Instagram but video” networks currently emerging. 

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  1. kurax411 reblogged this from dbreunig
  2. jinkhet reblogged this from dbreunig and added:
    These are interesting points. I can only imagine that Twitter is planning to use its social graph to increase a user’s...
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  7. getthefuckoffmy reblogged this from dbreunig and added:
    Instagram is for retards who don’t know how technology really works. Beacuause “It just does”
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