First Law of Self-Expression

The difficulty of making something worthy of my attention is directly proportional to the amount of information you’re trying to convey.

That, right there, is why “video sharing” is so hard. When you make a video, and share it, you’re asking people to take in a lot of information; 24 frames per second plus sound. It commands the viewer’s full attention. Short form video works online because it is far, far easier to ask for and get 2 minutes of someone’s time than it is 20 minutes or 200 minutes.

This also explains why blogging is so hard, still, even though it’s easier than ever to “write” a blog and publish a blog post. When you write 250 to 500 to 1000 words, you’re asking someone to engage with your prose and your ideas for a sustained period of time. Writing is difficult not because it’s hard to put words in a sequence (think about how easy it is to talk) but because we’re always conscious of the reader when writing.  Tweets are easier to make not just because they require fewer words, but because the 140 character limit so substantially reduces the cost to the reader. Your tweet might suck, but if it did it only cost me a second or two of my time. Same with a photo from Instagram. Tumblr is easy because it makes re-blogging a central act, or publishing photos, and isn’t so focused on long-form writing.

Using this law, you can begin to plot which types of social media are essentially “harder” despite ready availability of good, simple, easy-to-use tools:

Social Media Continuum

Vine is trying to address this challenge posed by limiting the amount of time people can demand of your attention. They impose a six second cap on the videos you create. They are not the first to do this, many have come before them and tried a similar approach (including the “12 Seconds” folks, Tout, Viddy to name a few).

Will that work? Maybe; it’s too soon to tell. Without a doubt the app is hot right now. But we regularly see similar frenzies in social media that don’t ultimately pan out.


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