Vine is a mobile app that lets you record and share ultra-short looping videos of up to six seconds each. Since six seconds is apparently too long for our withered attention spans to handle, the app makes it easy to combine even shorter clips, so a typical Vine is a loop of a few two-second segments. You can scroll through Vines in an endless stream of people hamming it up in the course of their daily activities: cooking . . . shaving . . . playing with a pet . . . surprising their girlfriend in the shower.
I have to admit, my first reaction to Vine was that the last thing society needs is another app for cute cat sharing. But as Martin Belam blogged, that misses the fun people have using the application and sharing with friends and family. From a personal standpoint, it's about the play, not the product.
On a deeper level, as Marshall McLuhan wrote, "The medium is the message." The long-term cultural impact of a new medium is vastly more profound than the specific content that is communicated. The simple presence of net-connected smartphones in our pockets is in the process of changing the world to a degree that will eventually be as significant as the wheel and printing press.