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Byrd: Welcome to Vine

Klark Byrd

A long time ago (eons in cyberspace years), I was on Myspace. My wife was using Facebook and she begged me to try the social network out. After I finally relented, I enjoyed years of activity on the still-popular social network. Then I started using Twitter, where I discovered it's possible to relay quite a bit of information in a 140-character message.

And now there's Vine.

A mobile app owned by Twitter, Vine allows users to create six-second video clips that loop over and over again. Twitter initially released Vine on iOS devices on Jan. 24, but also released an Android version on June 3 for devices running Android 4.0 or higher.

According to Vine's Wikipedia entry, the service "became the most-used video-sharing application in the market" within a couple of months of its release. And I know why: It's addicting.

I started using Vine after I saw a video or two on Facebook in the "Best Vines" posts that are going around. I downloaded the app on my Google Nexus 7 and shot my first video of my 1-year-old son waving at the camera. I posted the video to my Vine and watched it loop a few times. I remember thinking, "Oh, this is cute."

It was few days later that I went back into the app to shoot a second video and it was only then that I discovered there were categories for videos, and under those categories I could watch videos posted by other Viners.

When I would find a Viner I liked, I would follow them. That automatically loaded their posted videos into my feed for me to watch, similar to Facebook's timeline bringing users posts by all of their friends. Slowly I started getting my own followers as I posted more videos and used hashtags to make those videos easier to find.

Some accounts, such as the popular Late Night Party Patrol, use hashtags to get followers to create all kinds of fun and funny videos in contests. Winners of an LNPP hashtag contest get a shoutout (the hosts will mention the winner by name in a video) and a revine (which posts the winner's video on the LNPP profile page). Those are considerable prizes considering LNPP's more than 37,000-follower base.

You can find all kinds of videos on Vine. For instance, popular Viner Jen Dent will occasionally make motivational videos meant to inspire other Viners to get up, get out and own the day. Another popular Vine account, Vine Comfort Team, is there for Viners who might be feeling a little off their game. The account revines inspirational vines made by others to remind Viners that tomorrow is another day and another chance to start over.

Other popular Viners -- besides celebrities like actress Emily Osment and comedian Dane Cook -- include BatDad, a hilarious impersonation of Christian Bale's Batman. "I have four kids and a Batman mask," his profile says. BatDad was featured Sept. 25 on the "Today" show for his unique way of delivering parenting tips. He's definitely worth following if you're on Vine.

And some viners get together to form groups that take a "Saturday Night Live" approach to making videos, i.e., they make funny vines usually while in character.

I will offer these two warnings about Vine: 1) If you have children, it's best if you watch vines with them and watch vines that you've previously watched because there are no moderators to ensure a child-friendly atmosphere, so the responsibility lies solely with the parent and 2) Stock up on energy drinks because once you get into using Vine and build up friendships with other Viners from across the globe, you can kiss an eight-hour night of sleep goodbye.

Byrd is the news editor for The Dickinson Press. Email him at kbyrd@thedickinsonpress.com or tweet him at klarkbyrd.

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