Noah J Nelson on Thursday, Aug. 16th
Okay, “social media service” may even prove to be a misnomer in the long run, but it’s the best I’ve got so far when it comes to talking about Branch. I noted its launch earlier in the week with a hint of jealousy that I hadn’t had a chance to play with the new toy yet. After making a bit of a fuss on Twitter the Branch team hunted me down and let me in.
So far I’ve been using it to start fun little conversations with my pre-existing Twitter friends (Best Desert in LA. Favorite Movie Theater) and to butt into serious discussions about the start-up Upstart (just go read it). I can tell you right away that the service is definitely as sticky as Twitter is, at least in terms of that “new car smell”. During my commute today I was eager to see if the branches I was part of had sprouted any new leaves (is it okay to run the metaphors that deep?). I even found myself wishing that there was a mobile app so I could check the status.
Yeah. New toy. I know.
Here’s where it gets interesting, though:
I think what the Branch kids have on their hands might just be part of the solution to a long-term problem I’ve had with the modern web. That of the lack of semi-private space. Services that bridge the gap between a fully private text conversation (or DM) and a public forum like Twitter.
Sure, you can always spin up an IRC channel and go to town, but that takes a degree of forethought that a lot of ay to day netizens are just too lazy to do. I’m speaking from personal experience there.
Branch isn’t a private experience when it comes to reading: the urls on the “rooms” are open affairs and so far Branch is curating the “best branches” daily. You can even hit the “popular” button and go exploring for interesting convos. Search is not activated, but I can see that being implemented. What privacy there is comes in the form of who gets into the conversation. The thread starter is the moderator, simple as that.
What I’d be keen to see Branch offer is private rooms that are not searchable. Safe spaces where people can really let their hair down without the penalty most online speech carries with it: that of being the de-facto permanent record. Which isn’t to say that I want a world safe for hate speech and incessant flaming, just a place where a group of friends can talk in carefully curated online spaces. To replicate the living room, or your favorite cafe, online.
One thing I really do like: you can embed a branch, like so:
Now I think I’m going to go post this on Branch.