Yesterday, Avos, a start-up led by Chad Hurley and Steve Chen of YouTube, introduced a new mobile video app to the market: MixBit, which resembles competitors Vine and Instagram Video in some ways but has a few other things to offer, including the following pretty exciting features:
1. You can make a full-length movie.
Vine gives you 6 seconds (not including the infinite loop option); Instagram Video boasts a whopping 15. But MixBit gives you 16 seconds -- for each clip. Ultimately, you can upload up to 256 individual clips, giving you the ability to make a 68-minute film on your phone. Who knows, maybe the Vine celebs we've all come to love will band together and make a feature -- would anyone really oppose?
By stripping users of usernames and any kind of direct feedback, MixBit introduces a safe space for people who want to create and share something without rejection.
2. Everyone is anonymous.
Teams Vine/Twitter and Instagram/Facebook offer pretty different platforms, but the reason they keep competing so fiercely is because, ultimately, they allow people to brand themselves as they share their thoughts, photos and videos. Whether it's for pure fun or for the sake of a high Klout number, anyone can infinitely expose details of their lives and, in the process, gain a following.
But MixBit makes it impossible to attach a video to a username, and comments are completely disabled. This will create an abstract space where videos will float around for people to enjoy without the pressure of racking up likes or comments. Sure, this could backfire and make people less motivated to try the app if they can't use it to boost their online presence, but the benefit is that people will be posting content only for the sake of sharing, which could end up producing some very interesting work, when there's no one to impress. Also, "no comments allowed" translates to "no mean/offensive comments allowed", and anyone who's ever posted a YouTube video will probably really enjoy that feature.
It is a selfless community, where one's only option is to contribute.
3. You can switch the order of the clips and really edit your movie.
The beauty and frustration (but mostly beauty) of Vine is that you can't edit, and Instagram Video provides some very basic editing, with more of the focus going to the retro-style filters. But MixBit lets you snip and remix clips (both yours and those of others), and the interface really does resemble a pocket-sized film-editing software. Deep down, every aspiring filmmaker knew this day would come.
4. You can remix any video content.
If you use Vine or Instagram and want to incorporate, say, a clip of Nicolas Cage running or a segment of a Nicki Minaj music video into your final product, you have no choice but to play it on your computer and record it with your phone. It's not necessarily a big deal, but for any true perfectionist, seeing those fuzzy horizontal lines or finding that their shot is just slightly crooked can be incredibly frustrating.
MixBit took this into consideration and allows users to take any pre-existing clips and mix them together. So now your video of you chatting with Tony Soprano can appear absolutely flawless (well, on all technical levels, anyway.)
5. It's an experiment to build a new kind of online community...and it just might work.
"[Other platforms] limit what [users] put online. Unless it's pretty, they don't share it", said Chad Hurley in regards to Vine and Instagram. And he would know after working with YouTube, one of the notoriously cruelest places when it comes to audience responses.
By stripping users of usernames and any kind of direct feedback, MixBit creates a kind of safe space for people who want to create and share something but fear rejection. And, conversely, it also holds benefits for people who genuinely don't want to develop a massive ego from being an internet sensation (see: Keelayjams' Social Experiment). So MixBit is for artistic people who want to play around with a video app without the feeling of being too attached to the internet. It is a selfless community, where one's only option is to contribute. And in a time when there can never be too many ways to market oneself, when people have formed serious attachments to the identity they've created online, when phrases and images can be deleted simply because they haven't reached some imaginary number of yeasayers, this is indeed something very special.
But that said, enjoy the anonymity while it lasts - Avos has indicated that "new features" could be added to erase the open community aspect. Hopefully they'll let this unique experiment (for 2013, anyway) blossom for a while first!