If you pay attention to what’s late and great on the Internet you’ve undoubtedly stumbled across Vine, a Twitter-like site (from Twitter, in fact) through which one can publish short—incredibly short (only 6 seconds)—video vignettes. The resulting “films” are often quite clever, and I, like just about everyone else that’s been exploring this new medium, struggle to tear myself away from our collective creativity.
The first thing I did after logging in was to query my objects of interest: insect (only one video of a beetle crawling across a piece of paper), bug (lots of Volkswagen videos and cartoons ladybird beetles), beetle (again, a few Volkswagen videos), cicada (nothing), butterfly (a couple videos from a butterfly house somewhere), moth (nothing), wasp (nothing), fly (one out-of-focus video of a calliphorid on a window), dragonfly (nothing), etc. The site is just too new to have much insect content, but wow is there a lot of potential. The next thing I did was create content to fill that void.
I immediately thought of the Entomological Society of America’s YouTube contest and wondered if we now shouldn’t also have a Vine video contest. As the originators say, constraining the video to a measly 6 seconds really forces you to be creative. I imagine videos about pinning, about specimen digitization, insect collection, insect natural history, the processes of research, you name it.
Here is one of my first, experimental Vine videos, of me collecting a snow scorpionfly (Mecoptera: Boreidae; see also Penny 1975). It’s not perfect, but you can’t edit the video during its processing, other than to delete it. I was also trying to aspirate this specimen with one hand, while I shot video with the other. Regardless, watch for many more of these 6 second masterpieces to emerge as the year goes on. Hopefully, as the site matures more tools will emerge that facilitate sharing and embedding.
As a side note, boreids are everywhere right now! I’m finding them crawling on snow, usually late in the afternoon near the bases of trees or close to piles of rocks (when temperatures are -1 to 7ºC)—males and females in equal numbers. I mention it because, as far as I could tell, the Frost’s research collection had only a single specimen. I love winter insects!