What interests me most about Branch is that it has the possibility to be the continuation of the evolution of online communication. Blogging -> Tweeting -> Branching (? — too soon). It has elements of both blogging (putting down words online) and tweeting (speed and character limits) while opening up new paths of discussion thanks to context and curation.
MG Siegler, The Branching of Content
I read MG’s ((More and more, I’m finding I discover new products via MG first before finding it through TechCrunch, PandoDaily, etc.)) post tonight about Branch, took a look at the example Branch, and have been letting the concept sink into me.
It’s difficult to say exactly what Branch is since it’s only beta-testing right now, but it appears to be a nice-looking comment engine. MG questions whether it is the “continuation of the evolution of online communication,” but when I look at the underlying function of it, it seems to be Google+ without the extras added on (the photos, hangouts, etc).
At the bottom of the example Branch, Ev Williams says:
“More specifically, we see these conversations being spawned by both news stories and social platforms. I could easily see starting a Branch based on a tweet.”
That’s exactly what Google+ does right now. A user posts a comment, a link to a news story, a tweet, a video, and a discussion starts right away. You can watch it stream by live if you were so inclinded, as well.
The only difference I see with Branch and Google+ is that Branch is going to be heavily curated. It’s always interesting to hear what the experts think about recent events, but I wonder if this is the best platform to be doing this. And I wonder if the “regular Joes” need another platform to discuss things on that doesn’t currently exist.
The one value I can see with Branch is it replacing email. It answers a lot of the problems email currently has – message length, participants are invited to join (thus people in the conversation are actually paying attention), and you’re not required to join every conversation. With people only able to respond with brief responses, it should help keep conversatiosn focused. It would also eliminate a lot of spam, because there would be filters in place to decide who would get to contact you ((I imagine it will behave like Twitter were you have to be mutually following each other in order to send a private message.)).
This idea may not be so far-fetched. As MG put it:
“The only real “solution” is to change the way people think about email. It needs to be considered more of a stream than an inbox. That is, it needs to be more like Twitter and less like a to-do list.”
Who better to bring a more “Twitter-like” experience for email than the co-founders of Twitter? ((Evan Williams and Biz Stone are partnering with Branch, and will be key members in the development of the product, most likely))