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Snapchat CEO sits in dark room and explains his app to parents around the world

What is Snapchat?
Is Evan Spiegel OK? Hours after posting a fuzzy 240p video on YouTube explaining what his Snapchat service is all about, the CEO went and deleted all of his posts on his Twitter account. The somewhat bizarre video, shot in a dimly lit room with a bunch of flowers and several other props, is essentially a four-minute lecture where Spiegel, who launched the app in 2011, explains to the uninitiated how Snapchat came about and how it works.

The talk appears to be aimed at parents confused by why their kids are taking “a zillion pictures a day – pictures of things that they [themselves] would never take pictures of.”

While taking photos used to be about capturing important moments, Spiegel explains, today’s young people use pictures “for talking.”   Using barely legible text and diagrams scrawled in a ring-bound sketchbook, the creator of the ephemeral messaging app goes on to talk about how social media has evolved over the years and how that’s affected notions of identity.

“When social media started, it was based on the desktop computer, and it was about accumulation,” Spiegel says, explaining that the proliferation of camera-equipped smartphones has changed everything and empowered the idea of instant expression, “which is really showing someone where you are, and how you’re feeling in the moment.”

The 25-year-old CEO continues, “Instant expression says my identity is who I am right now – it’s the result of everything I’ve ever done, but I’m not the accumulation of all of that stuff….this brings us to Snapchat.” These comments, it seems, tie in with Spiegel’s decision today to delete all his Twitter posts – it’s so darn yesterday with all that accumulation, you see.

Snapchat basics

Reaching out to confused mothers and fathers everywhere, Spiegel then goes on to outline the basics of the cross-platform app. He explains about the software’s three screens – Snap, the camera element of the app; Chat, which shows the people with whom you’re having conversations; and Stories, which keeps all of your snaps together from the last 24 hours.

Stories, Spiegel says, is what really sets Snapchat apart from other social media apps. Why? Because it shows content in chronological order, rather than in reverse order, so you can watch a particular event unfold in a way that makes more sense to the viewer.

Summing it all up in one sentence, he says Snapchat is “all about taking pictures and expressing yourself in the moment.”

Questions answered?

Clearly explained, albeit in near darkness, the super-low-budget production may help to answer a few questions for head-scratching folk who’ve thus far failed to understand the attraction of the Snapchat app. It may even have thousands of excited parents signing up to the service eager to begin expressing themselves in the moment, a development that would surely have their children closing down their own accounts with equal enthusiasm.

It’s not clear why Spiegel opted to shoot the sequence with a budget equal to the price of a Starbucks coffee (no, wait, it looks like it cost way less than that), but perhaps rather than creating the kind of ultra-slick HD production we’ve come to expect from tech companies big and small, he simply wanted to make something more intimate and personal – rather like the app he created.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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