Instant video ... a post on Vine.
If you're a Twitter user, you've probably noticed this week that your stream is unusually cluttered with boring videos of people making faces or sitting at their desks.
That's Vine, Twitter's new video app. Already, some are already hailing it as the Instagram of video. For now, though, it's available only on the iPhone and iPad touch.
As BuzzFeed was quick to point out, most people's first Vine posts (Vines? Vinestagrams?) are, to put it politely, inessential.
Mercifully, they're also brief - Vine videos max out at six seconds in length. To counter the "blink and you've missed it" problem, the videos loop endlessly, leading some to compare them to GIFs, the '80s-vintage looping video snippets that have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.
But if Vines share with GIFs the qualities of brevity and repetition, their purpose is fundamentally different, largely because of the way you create them.
To make a GIF, you start with a conventional video, then use an editing tool like Adobe Photoshop to pluck from it that single perfect moment that you want to preserve for all time.
In short, GIFs are the product of video-editing carried to its logical extreme. The process is reductive.
Vines, in contrast, are constructive. That is, you build a Vine by shooting little bits of video on the fly: two seconds here, two seconds there, two seconds over yonder, and you've got your end result.
It's likely to be choppy, a little sloppy, imperfect. But it's immediate. The next step is not to edit but to share - on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Vine itself, which for now will be a standalone app with its own community (think Instagram) rather than a baked-in Twitter feature.
In time, Vine's six seconds could become, to borrow a phrase from CNET's Daniel Terdiman, the new atomic unit for instant video communication.