I’ve been using the site 12seconds.tv a bit these days, now that I have a webcam on my computer. It’s funny, the site has a great hook: Leave bite-sized posts, like you do on Twitter only with video instead of text, and you’re done.
Sounds like a natural, doesn’t it? People like video, hate reading, and it’s short, like Twitter and Facebook wall posts. What’s not to love here? Why isn’t this place just blowing up with people? It certainly got a lot of press back when it was launched. It just never took off. And I think I know why.
1. People are self-conscious. I think the main reason 12seconds.tv hasn’t taken off the way it should have is most people don’t like the way they look on camera. And the way a desktop cam makes anyone look, I don’t blame them. I myself am incredibly attractive – but you wouldn’t know it by viewing one of my 12seconds.tv posts. Here let me show you.
2. I can’t show you my 12seconds.tv posts.
Update: I have been contacted by people at 12seconds.tv, as you can read in the comments below. As I figured, there was a bit more to their embedding code than simply copying and pasting it in – you must select the, “Switch to non iFrame embed for MySpace” link above the embedding code. While neither code given works for me on WordPress or Livejournal, the two platforms I use most, it does work on Tumblr and Blogger. In short, their embedding code does work, unless it doesn’t.
This is how WordPress views both versions of code. Unfortunately, either way, it does not post. As I mentioned in the earlier version of this, I am sure there is a way to make this work – but if it doesn’t work easily and the first time out, people won’t bother. This goes back to my initial point: If this can’t be easily done with 12seconds, but can with other video services, people will use those other services instead.
3. I can only post 12 seconds worth of video. I know this is the site’s whole reason for being, but it really is annoying to only get 12 seconds with which to share something. To help users get around the problem of finding something to say, 12seconds offers random questions for users to answer. I’ll admit, this isn’t a bad idea, it does help. And certainly it’s something Twitter doesn’t do: Give you ideas for posting something. Then again, Twitter doesn’t need to give users ideas for posts.
The time limit becomes really annoying if you do find something worth sharing. There are many videos on the site recorded with someone’s iPhone where the clip cuts off in the middle. So even if you do manage to find something good to share, it had better not run an epic length of 13 seconds.
4. Follower Syncing with Twitter. This is something you can shut off in the settings, but I’m going to bitch about it anyway. When you connect your Twitter account to 12seconds so you can cross post videos once you’ve recorded them, 12seconds will also offer to check your Twitter contacts to see who else is on the site. Fair enough, that’s pretty standard stuff these days.
A few days later, I noticed that a lot of the people I was connected to on 12seconds were almost all inactive on the site – some had never even posted a first video. (This is what led me to this post, by the way. A lot of my Tweets are pretty hip cats, and if this was something worth doing, they really would have been doing it by now.) So I unfollow all of them. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m following them all again the next day. Why would 12seconds want to auto sync all of my followers? I understand checking once, but doing it constantly is a further reminder that Twitter has an active community (because they know I keep gaining friends there) and 12seconds has next to none. (Or else they wouldn’t need to keep checking.)
5. None of us are that interesting. Loren Feldman of 1938 Media is about the funniest “Internet Celebrity” out there, and his videos with puppets are hysterical. If blogging, Mob Wars, RSS feeds or Shel Israel actually were mainstream, he would be working for Saturday Night Live right now. He is the only person I can think of who could regularly post anything I would want to see.
After him there’s the rest of us, and we aren’t very funny. Or interesting. Less so since roughly 90% of us post from these God-awful webcams. Not that the other 10% posting from their iPhones are sharing anything of much value either.
To be fair, the problem of not being terribly interesting or entertaining goes beyond 12seconds. YouTube currently warehouses thousands of terabytes of stupid. There are one or two things on there worth catching, but each one sits upon a large pile of unwatchable footage. Without any popularity, 12seconds doesn’t have any community, no mass of people trying and failing, only to finally post something really good and worth sharing.
So, despite having solid technology and a good premise, I don’t know that anything can be done to make this site more interesting to the average “life streamer.” I honestly congratulate them for openly appealing to the short attention span in all of us, but somehow the 140 character limitation of text posting doesn’t work the same way with video.