The Year on Branch
In an effort to write a year-end list you actually want to read, the Branch team put our heads together and created a list of our favorite moments of the year on Branch. From getting “Fireballed,” to working with Frontline PBS and Fast Company, to having lighthearted conversations about our first websites and favorite throwback technologies, here are our picks.
1. Frontline used Branch to cover the 2012 election.
Boy is that ever true about rhetoric and delivery, Jim. Clinton is an actor; Obama less of one.
– David Maraniss
Leading up to the premiere of their documentary “The Choice 2012,” Frontline PBS used Branch to bring together presidential biographers and political journalists for three conversations about artifacts from Obama’s and Romney’s pasts. These branches gave context and meaning to the artifacts, which were uncovered while researching “The Choice” and had never been seen before by journalists or voters.
2. We learned about how blogs need to evolve.
Valid point, Paul, but what if the act of commenting were also the act of me starting my own blog?
- Anil Dash
We started out 2012 learning from the founders of SixApart, Metafilter, and Blogger about how blogs can stay relevant in the midst of social media. “It seems like some of the basic elements of the form such as comments,” Anil wrote, “have been stuck in a model that doesn’t work very well.” (This branch was also one of our first ‘big wins’ of 2012, so we have to admit feeling pretty fondly about it.)
3. We got Fireballed. Twice.
Branch continues to impress me.
- John Gruber
John Gruber’s technology blog Daring Fireball has become famous for what’s known as “Fireballing” the sites it links to: sending massive amounts of traffic all at once, sometimes taking them down in the process. Luckily, when Branch got Fireballed in August (and then again in October), we only narrowly managed to avoid that fate — but we think that’s a good thing. Thanks, John!
4. We found out librarians are awesome.
I’m curious to see if your library is using local vendors to purchase materials for circulation.
- Justin Hoenke
This year, our team learned that sometimes the people who use and love Branch the most are ones we’d never expect. Probably the best example of this is the vibrant community of librarians, led by Justin Hoenke and his Branch group called The Library, that uses Branch to discuss the intersection of library science and technology.
5. Eater gave the New York Times a run for its money.
Is the move as risky as the people quoted in the Times piece make it out to be?
Over the summer, the New York Times reported a big story about changes to Eleven Madison Park — a Michelin-starred restaurant here in New York. Eater used Branch to take a different angle on the story, bringing together food and restaurant critics from the Village Voice and New York Magazine to discuss the changes in the context of the restaurant’s ten-year run. It was one of our first (and still one of our favorite) publisher branches.
6. Four-star general and former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq Stanley McChrystal posted in a branch. Seriously.
It’s important to decide certain things upfront: who you are and what sort of leader you want to be.
- Gen. Stanley McChrystal
Our team’s user “wishlist” — people whose opinions and insights we would love to see on Branch one day — gets longer all the time. We were thrilled when General Stanley McChrystal, who joined a branch hosted by Fast Company, was checked off the list. “This is where relationships are key,” he wrote. “Put people around you whom you trust and then over-communicate with them.”
7. You gave us feedback. A lot of it.
A group for friends of Branch to talk about the site, give us feedback, and share ideas.
- Libby Brittain
One of the most rewarding parts of building Branch is hearing your feedback on it, for better and worse. Our team has done our best to get this feedback early and often this year, and (Luckily!) you’re not shy. If you want to send more our way in 2013, follow along with our Friends of Branch group, which we created as a place to ask questions and hear your ideas by clicking ‘Watch.’
8. The Branch team talked about our product in public.
What did you learn from Twitter lists? We’re contemplating a similar feature on Branch.
- Josh Miller
We also think it’s important to talk about our product in public as much as we can. Our co-founder Josh Miller took the launch of Branch Groups as a chance to do just that, starting a group called Musings about Text Boxes with a few of our investors and friends of the company. Click ‘Watch’ to follow along and hear about what’s in store for 2013.
9. MG Siegler dominated Apple coverage with Branch.
And what about the thought that Apple should plant fakes to flood the rumor mill? I think that would be pretty smart.
- MG Siegler
Former TechCrunch writer and Branch investor MG Siegler has probably written a small book with the number of branches he started about Apple this year. Whether he’s talking about their now-infamous hardware leaks or iPad mini pricing, MG has a knack for getting bloggers and technologists together to talk about what news items like these really mean — both for the technology community and Apple customers worldwide.
10. We saw the the best (and worst) of the 1990s.
My first music was Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave your Lover,” which for some reason I liked when I was 4.
- Jon Lax
This year, we noticed that branches make great “campfires” — places to share stories and reminisce with friends. Recently, a few high-profile designers shared screenshots and links to the very first websites they ever designed, and earlier this year, the Branch team and a few friends traded a few of our favorite pieces of throwback tech. Give them a look for the best (and worst) of the 1990s — and be extra grateful that we’re headed into 2013!