Down with the vids

Like an ageing celebrity, some web companies, startup or otherwise, feel like they've been around forever and you assume they're in rude health until you see a news story flash up that they've died. And then you remember they exist, feel a bit sad, relive the happy memories and move on.

12seconds.tv, sadly, is that aging celebrity.

At that start of the week, the video microblogging (or microvlogging, I suppose) site announced it was to close later this month. It It was lacking: Lack of a revenue model, lack of time, lack of interest all seemed to conspire to kill it off.

Which is a shame in many ways, as every now and then you'd see a nicely worked PR campaign, or piece of community growth around the site, usually from people who knew what they were doing when it came to social media. It mark spark a bit of extra interest or a mental note to re-explore the possibilities, but then it'd usually get put to one side.

And that was probably the biggest problem - lots of people who liked the site, could see what it was for, and liked what 12seconds was doing, but never actually used the thing.

Jemima Kiss wrote a very good analysis of why video chat communities suffer - they're high cost, the communities are often small and video chat or video microblogging still feels a bit weird. I agree - it's one thing to type a 140 witty retort on Twitter. It's much harder to do that well with a camera pointing at your face.

I'll confess, I don't think I'd even considered using one of the several vlogging sites in any kind of professional capacity or brief for about nine months now, if not longer. I don't think I've heard too many people in my field mention 12seconds or Seesmic for a good while either. And I played with it a bit a few years ago but never really used any of the communities much on a personal basis.

About two or three years ago, video microblogging or live streaming felt genuinely exciting. Certainly, there was a fair bit of buzz, even from the technophobes in my then office, when the people promoting the fourth Indiana Jones film got Steven Spielberg and the stars to do a Q&A via Seesmic.

I remember looking into the possibilities of Qik, Seesmic and 12seconds, and others, for work purposes (chiefly PR at that point in time), but gradually it seemed to become less relevant to the brief. There were people using these sites but it seemed to make more sense to focus activities elsewhere.

Journalism-wise, as well, 12seconds was an interesting tool. But then, although there wasn't the immediacy, YouTube was still the daddy (with Vimeo clinging onto the coat tails) and, for a variety of reasons, it made more sense to post elsewhere, especially if you wanted something longer than 12 seconds.

And then Audioboo was doing a nice job for the audio side of things - and you felt a lot less self conscious using this. Plus, the quality on Audioboo is generally good no matter where or what you're using. Making good video is a lot more time consuming.

But I genuinely don't think video blogging sites like 12seconds are completely on the way out. The innovative campaigns that were run using 12seconds and the felt the technology is getting a lot more mobile and easier to use, while increasing in quality, means you'll always get a steady number of people working in the area.

There's definitely a niche for a more intimate, immediate, community vlogging site that isn't directly competing with YouTube or Twitter, although if I knew what that was, I wouldn't be writing that now.

Certainly from both a PR and journalism perspective, there are wonderful chances to get very creative with video and some portable tools. It might even be good for the health of this particular area if it was written off - it would give those who are genuinely passionate about it the chance to build something away from the limelight a little.

Video's such a ubiquitous medium that I've no doubt someone, somewhere will come up with a great idea. In the meantime, there'll be one less place to experiment with. 12seconds.tv will be missed, but probably not for much longer than that length of time.