September 3, 2012
I’ve been checking out Branch lately, because I’m curious about its potential for bringing civil discourse to the Web. I have an invitation to join, which, as I understand it, means I can start conversations. Plus, I’m looking at how Branch can be used on a website, and I’ll have more to say about that later.
But I can’t help wonder how effective Branch will be when you have to Ask To Join before you can add a comment. I find myself reading a thread, and feeling the urge to give my cents worth — but before I can do that I have to click on that darn Ask To Join button.
Maybe I’ll be deemed worthing of joining, and maybe I won’t. So far I’ve asked to join on three occasions and have not been accepted. I choose not to take this personally. Likely, the person who started the conversation has moved on to other things and lost interest. This seems to me a likely explanation, because after a day or two, I too have lost interest in the subject.
This system could lead to the downfall of Branch over the long haul, because it takes away from the spontaneity of conversation. The conversations at Quora tend to be pretentious, but at least you can jump right in.
Where Branch might shine is with longer conversations about big-picture subjects. I’m looking at how it could be used as a forum for discussing a controversial mine proposed here in Kamloops. There are many pros and cons to the project that could keep people talking for months.
Update: I finally got invited to take part in a conversation, several hours later. At that point, I felt obligated to say something even though my idea no longer seemed fresh.