Civil Fucking Conversations, Finally

It’s hard to say what I hate worse: the disjointed nature of trying to have a conversation on Twitter, or blog comments. Actually, no it’s not. It’s clearly blog comments. They are quite possibly the worst and most useless thing on the internet. But both of the aforementioned things are the reasons I love Branch.

I first wrote about Branch almost a year ago, when they were just getting started. CrunchFund subsequently got involved in an advisory role to the company because they were trying to do the impossible: create a civil, smart place on the internet for discourse. Today, they’re officially launching out of private beta and into the public.

Read More



Welcome to Branch!

Today, Branch is coming out of private beta and will begin sending invitations to the public. Our team is so excited to show you what we’re building, but before we do, we want tell you why we’re building it.

Been working with the Branch team as an advisor for a few months now; excited about their direction and potential. Because I’m not a big fan of blog comments, people mistakenly assume that I’m not interested in discussions. But that’s not true. What I’m actually not interested in is bullshit. That’s what the vast majority of comments I see on the web currently are. Very few comments are worth engaging. Or even reading, actually.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Some of the best conversations I have now occur on Twitter. Unfortunately, Twitter is not very conducive to discussions beyond one reply. Not only is Branch built for that, they’ve come up with a smart way to continue Twitter discussions as well. 

So far, the platform has produced meaningful discussions — content that is actually interesting and worth reading. It will be difficult to scale this type of content, but the team knows it. And they’re going about it the right way. 

The Branching Of Content

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. 

Here’s an example Branch from today with Evan Williams, Sarah Lacy, Steven Levy, Eric Eldon, Claire Cain Miller, and Branch co-founder Josh Miller participating. 

As you may know, I hate blog comments. But people mistakenly think that means I hate discussion about my content. That’s not true at all. To the contrary, I love it. I just believe the existing commenting norms (and really the concept itself) are completely broken. I’m happy when people talk about my content on their own blogs. Or on Twitter. But again, context often doesn’t travel well this way. Branch can hopefully change that. (While maintaining brevity and civility.)

Blog posts or tweets can be launching boards for branches. And much like Quora, I expect Branch to be a platform that spurs new blog posts and tweets as process journalism and discussions reveal gems from the best minds in industries. It will be a symbiotic relationship. 

CrunchFund hasn’t invested in Branch, but we’ll be advising them.

More on Branch’s blog and Techmeme.