I’m easily distracted… always have been. Had I been born in the 80’s rather than the 60’s, I’d probably be a life long Ritalin user. My internal hamster is running a mile a minute and if what’s happening right now isn’t getting to the point fast enough I reach for the zapper… I have often thought how neat it would be to have a human zapper, which allows you to fast forward through lackluster conversations. This impatience extends to media. I was raised in the UK on commercial free BBC TV and radio with the result that I am physically unable to sit through more commercials than the concise 30 seconds offered by the brilliant people at HuluPlus. I’m clearly not alone in this; media companies and advertisers are in constant conflict with consumers who don’t want the distraction. Placing ads anywhere, especially on social media, draws cries of outrage from consumers who have gotten used to the price of admission being free… both from cost and distraction.
So, it is with interest that I started playing with Vine recently. If you haven’t tried it already you are probably using an Android phone… so far it’s only available on iPhone and iPod Touch. What this cunning, but evil little App does is allow you to create six second long stop-motion micro movies on your iPhone. If you ever watched Wallace and Gromit, or anything by Ray Harryhausen, you will be familiar with this technique. It’s very easy to do and kinda fun, but in the same way that Twitter drove the wannabe witty commentators to compress their deathless prose into 140 pithy characters, so Vine is going to turn a good number of us into six second animation crazy people. The app allows you to post direct to your twitter feed or Facebook, and it’s pretty addicting. I haven’t had the nerve to post my first efforts yet, but I’m working on it.
The challenge this very cool App, and the social integration it brings with it, goes beyond the interest it may generate in millennial cineasts or middle-aged goof balls like me. In the same way twitter declared 140 characters to be the required length for any conversation (commercial or otherwise), so Vine and the compressed media featured on Hulu is driving the attention span and the media window ever closer. Advertisers are responding by attempting to build their brands into successful vehicles much like Hyundai and the Walking Dead. That’s a show where no matter how horrific the zombie attack may be, you can be sure that our heroes will escape in a weirdly clean Hyundai… makes perfect sense. I’d much rather be trying deal with zombies in a shinny new Hyundai rather than (say) a Humvee. Mobile is further compressing the real estate available to target. The end product is an audience which is highly fragmented, talking to itself or just the people it likes, consuming media on multiple screens often in time shifts who is increasingly intolerant of the distraction commercial messaging creates.
What was that?… Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.