Looks like the folks up in Redmond are getting ready to throw their hat into the social messaging ring with a new service called Vine. Vine is designed to make it easy for people to exchange information and stay in touch with friends and family during an emergency. Here's the official scoop:
Currently Vine is in closed beta and not yet open to the public. I took a look at the demo and I have to say it's pretty slick. It goes way beyond the 140 character text and link posting on Twitter.
Vine has a pretty slick mash up of Live Maps and News---effectively creating a very customized social news tool. But wait--there's more. MS Vine is also has integration with Facebook, email, as well as your mobile phone.
For example, I live in California and we are prone to a little shaking of the earth every once in awhile. Say we had a quake. I'd want to check in with all the members of my family.
I could use Vine to send a text to my sister, an email to my parents, and Facebook message to my cousin--all at the same time. Since Vine aggregates news, I can easily get the latest information on road closures, damage & other breaking news.
While the tech crowd will be quick to point out all the services that already exist that offer the same features as Vine, it's important to remember that outside Silicon Valley (aka the "real world"), there are lots of people who don't have the time, inclination or technical aptitude to seek out and learn how to use those tools.
There are also tons of opportunities for integration with Yahoo! properties if/when that deal ever goes through. It seems like Flickr, for one, would be an excellent addition to Vine. (Heck, just add Flickr now, not later!) I also think that, like Twitter, there are lots of interesting ways that educators could use Vine in an educational or mobile learning environment.
One other note to the fine folks at Microsoft. You've put together four fine video's showing how people can use Vine. However, you haven't included any way for people to share them with anyone else. Why not include the "Share This" button and allow folks to email, embed, post to Facebook, Digg, Stumble, Y! Buzz or Tweet about Vine with their friends?
Vine is a pretty impressive effort. There will be
those who, because it's a Microsoft product, won't give it a chance.
But a good tool is a good tool. I don't care who makes it. I think Vine
has real potential to be a popular choice for lots of people,
organizations and families. I'm looking forward to taking a deeper look
at it soon (hint! hint!).