On October 27, Twitter announced that it was shutting down Vine, the social media platform it acquired in 2012 which allowed users to create and share six-second videos that repeat until the viewer stops them. The move sent shockwaves through the Internet, and one suspects it came as a result of Twitter's inability to monetize the platform, part of a long, slow decline that has found Twitter unable to catch on to the mysterious whims of the Internet economy.

Like Twitter, Vine's signature feature was a self-imposed constraint: Each video a user posted to the site could last no longer than six seconds. The site, which launched in 2013, was envisioned by its founders--Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll--as a forum for users to make video scrapbooks, preserving memories with the benefit of sound and motion. In this way, it would mirror human memory, collecting fragments of experience to be periodically replayed and reassessed.

Instead, Vine launched a comedy revolution. Free from commercial constraints or expectations, the site's comedians documented the comedy of daily life--the observations, whims, and fantasies that, before Vine, remained in their heads. Like every great social media platform, Vine was a sociology lesson: We learned that we crave nonsense, and even if the details of our most outrageous thoughts differ, there's a common spirit in them that unites us.

The comedy of daily life, and the way we process it, is different from the comedy of film and television. The latter is scripted and rehearsed to achieve a certain effect for as many people as possible. It is impulse softened into a shape that anyone can understand.

The comedy of daily life is fast and spontaneous; it arises from dense constellations of personal and shared experience. It is more flexible than filmed comedy, able to take on a greater variety of shapes.

Some film and television writers, like Judd Apatow and Larry David, approximate the rhythms of everyday life, but they are still bound by the processes of large commercial productions. There is too much planning and repetition to replicate an unmediated experience. There is an editor, a co-writer, a producer, a focus group that molds the final product.

Vines were different. They were either recorded in real time or subject to their own kind of construction. In the former case, you experienced a moment as it happened, when the mental processes that led to an action were still mysterious. This is Kirk Cousins, quarterback for the Washington Redskins, shouting "You like that! You like that!" and gesturing wildly at reporters after a come-from-behind victory--a half-formed act of defiance that acquires a slanted logic when played on an infinite loop, or Jose Bautista violently flipping his bat after hitting a home run in the 2015 ALDS. The action is isolated and repeated until you can't imagine an alternative response to the given situation.

The constructed Vine, on the other hand, was the preferred vehicle for most of the site's comedians. Whether through editing or the addition of musical cues, they assembled jokes in ways that didn't fit into the conventions of traditional visual media. One Vine, titled "yeet," was part of the "dunk cam" phenomenon, in which participants used miniature basketball hoops or simply simulated the experience of dunking on an unsuspecting friend. This clip's genius is its emphasis on a post-dunk celebration that falls far out of proportion to the simulated dunk itself.

The Vine begins with a college student entering his dorm room and asking his friends for notes for a subject he is never able to articulate, because one of his friends leaps and slaps the wall directly above him, sending the book-toting friend tumbling to the ground. Young men emerge from all corners of the dorm room to stomp and holler over the victim while his attacker stares into the camera and dances. On the soundtrack, we hear an instrumental sample from Fergie's "London Bridge."

The video is, at once, a tribute to and a jab at gaudy sports celebrations. It recognizes the passion and invention that drive athletes in moments of triumph--as well as the childish bluster that colors the way they express that passion. In tone and rhythm, the Vine resembles the modern sitcom throwaway joke, but in isolation, it creates its own narrative structure. In the interest of brevity, Vine did not have time for excess. Like film and television comedy, Vine was about rhythm. With strict limitations to uphold, a properly timed transition from one shot to the next was essential to preserve all the visual and aural information necessary to tell a joke.

One strategy to address these limitations was the ellipsis, which allowed Vine comedians to capture the greatest currency in Internet culture: mystery. Unlike the average Hollywood film or television show, Vines couldn't explain the premise for a joke, context had to be gleaned from limited information, which allowed viewers to construct the narrative space around a Vine. Given that Vines were both fleeting and repetitive, they allowed viewers to meditate on moments that resisted closure, opening space for shifting interpretations.

One striking ellipsis comes in a Vine titled, #mom. The loop begins with a middle-aged woman in her garden, in the midst of what appears to be an improvised, interpretive dance. She shakes her arms, then her torso, before doing both while raising her arms in a bent sun salutation. Before she can finish the sequence, the loop restarts, giving her disjointed moves a kind of meditative grace. The loop raises question that soon become irrelevant. The action, in its details and essence, will always transcend its causes.

Vine was a challenge to grasp onto a joke before you could fully digest it, to return for answers you knew you wouldn't find. Like memes, many of the best Vines were funny in ways that were difficult to articulate, that worked in the same way an inside joke might. Inside jokes are too specific to be funny when explained, but even those outside the joke can often appreciate them, because we have collected enough perceptual experience to piece parts of them together.

Like every popular social media platform, Vine fostered a new kind of connection, one based on sharing our hyper-specific jokes and realizing there wasn't as much distance between them as we thought. If social media is about creating intimacy, Vine bound us through the ways in which we process humor. We learned that there is something in every joke that transcends circumstance, that is fundamentally human.

The most famous example of the Vine-as-inside joke is the "Damn, Daniel" series, created by two high school students, Daniel Lara and Joshua Holz, in which Holz exclaims, "Damn, Daniel!" in a series of short clips, sometimes in response to Lara's white Vans sneakers, sometimes as a non-sequitur. The video, posted to Twitter without context, became a viral phenomenon in February for reasons few could articulate. It had something to do with Holz's inflection--a high-pitched parody of the Valley Girl dialect--but there was something else, something in the mysterious architecture of inside jokes that fostered an immediate connection and, perhaps, reminded viewers of their most cherished inside jokes. It was one of the most inexplicable moments in the history of Internet celebrity, and it revealed Vine's ability to tap into the inarticulable forces that drive human connection. The platform's best comedians internalized that process and used it to create Vines that operated according to the shapes and rhythms of their specific comedic temperaments.

Vic Berger is one of those artists. He became a new kind of political satirist in a genre ruled by partisan righteousness. Rather than preach, Berger embraced absurdism as a strategy for its own sake, not as a heavy-handed form of commentary. His humor is based in small details of human behavior, magnified and repeated until you can see beneath the action into the subject's psyche. If it was satire, it was also psychology, and it cut straight through the carefully sculpted images of politicians into something smaller and more vulnerable. This may be why Berger's best subjects were Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, two candidates who embody specific kinds of human tragedy. Berger captured them at the exact moments when their tragic dimensions peeked through and you saw someone ruled by the fear of embarrassment, the fear of being exposed as someone different than the person he wants to be.

Bush was the more obvious of the two in his fear and discomfort. While ostensibly playing the role of the GOP's establishment front-runner, Bush struggled to maintain his composure and establish himself as a charming and relatable figure. Berger's collection of Bush Vines presents a man ill at ease in public, creating a mosaic of social anxiety in the one arena where it is least tolerated and most prone to ruthless mockery.

Berger's most revealing Bush Vine condensed a video from the Bush campaign in which the candidate weighed in on his "Silicon Valley Favorites," choosing between a BlackBerry and iPhone, for example. Like the campaign, the original video was an earnest and embarrassing attempt at appealing to millennials. There is an innocence and optimism in its tone that was missing from the likes of Trump and Cruz, but there is also an inherent awkwardness that Berger amplifies. The Vine cuts between Bush declaring his preference for the iPhone, MacBook Pro, and Apple Watch, after which he rapidly blinks and parts his lips, his anxiety fighting containment. The moment is clear in the original video, but here, it crystallizes into a symbol of Bush's fatal flaw: a discomfort on camera so profound that he couldn't avoid it in a private setting.

Berger didn't approach Trump with the same single-minded focus, because Trump's insecurities manifest themselves with more variety and (relative) subtlety. A brilliant and blustering showman, Trump always assumes a posture of complete confidence; it's in his utter lack of self-awareness that his rotten core reveals itself. One Vine loops a clip from one of Trump's speeches in which he gestures toward himself and repeats, "I grab and grab and grab and grab..." as an ominous percussive beat matches his tempo. For sheer efficiency, the Vine can't be beat in its distillation of Trump's essence: a vain and hateful man addicted to power who, tragically, has been able to take whatever he's wanted.

Most Vine comedians didn't have a subject or theme, but rather a conviction in their perspectives and feel for comedic rhythm, like J. Cyrus, who veered from impressions to social critiques to characters that were a little nonsensical and a little relatable. Scrolling through his Vines creates the sensation of having access to his stream of consciousness. The Internet has fostered intimacy by creating forums for people to share parts of their selves that were previously private, and Cyrus excelled in that tradition.

One of the great advantages of Internet comedy is the ease with which it can be created and distributed, which allows comedians to preserve the immediacy of a new idea. Because Vine comedians didn't need writing staffs or have prescribed amounts of time to fill, they were free to follow their impulses without having to consider how they fit into the traditional structures of a film, television episode, or stand-up special. In the absence of these constraints, the best comedians developed an advanced facility with joke structure and visual framing. Cyrus' work displays a clinical mastery of technique and timing, operating with a sense of aesthetic purpose that can elude artists who are beholden to the commercial interests of film studios and television networks.

One of his most skillful Vines is titled "bumping into someone from high school," and, in six seconds, it deconstructs the rules of social decorum that determine how we engage with old acquaintances. The clip is soundtracked by a Vine from the user Choonie titled "My theme song" in which she sings--in a sweet, lilting cadence--"Hey, how you doin', well I'm doin' just fine/I lied, I'm dying inside." Cyrus uses a fast and precise series of cuts to match the song to the narrative arc of two old friends running into each other on the street. What begins as a cheerful reunion quickly devolves into a mutual cry for help.

The concision required by the medium sharpens the joke, achieving maximum impact for a premise that would be dulled if stretched into a four-minute sketch. Where a traditional sketch comedian might view the premise as an opportunity to let his characters unload a string of personal maladies, Cyrus understands that what's most funny about the premise is the speed with which a friendly encounter takes a dour and solipsistic turn. Freed from the length requirements of traditional sketch comedy, Cyrus is able to reduce the joke to its essence.

These kinds of innovations--created by and for an era of shortened attention spans--will likely resonate in whatever form micro-videos take next, but what I'll miss most about Vine is its rawness and vulnerability. Since its stars developed without expectations, they were able to let their instincts guide their work and encourage the platform's other users to do the same. The next evolution of micro-videos will probably be tamer and less idiosyncratic than their original form--an inevitable consequence of any entertainment ecosystem that requires money to survive. But the spirit of the site will live on, and if new artists need inspiration, they can return to where it all started, the six-second loops that were made to serve no master except the whims of their creators, and the restless, revolutionary impulses that guided them.