“Should content be considered a product?” — Welcome to Branch, the dinner-table discussion for the web
There’s another new kid on the Obvious Corp block, besides the much talked about Medium. And it looks sense making: Branch is a communication tool-box, built upon Twitter that lets you ‘branch out’ into deeper conversation with a group of people– rather than cluttering the Twitter stream. Like a dinner-table conversation powered by the interwebs.
The “circle of trust design” takes some hints from Google Hangout and also mindmaps conversation streams. If you like a particular discussion point, you can branch out into a specific debate.
Conversations can also be embedded as widgets anywhere on the web. A topical discussion on Branch: “Should content be considered a product?”. Very much so. Content + code together make up the conversation experience and most likely determine whether users bother to get involved.
Here is how the background story goes: Branch was initially started as ‘Roundtable’ in September 2011 by Princeton student Josh Miller, who bootstrapped the company from New York City with 2 co-founders. In January 2012 they moved to San Francisco to continue building the product with expert guidance from Obvious Corp.’s Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jason Goldman. But Obvious Corp is only one investor in Branch, who raised $2M earlier this year. They share the table with media/communication focused VCs BetaWorks, Lerer Ventures, SV Angels (all investors in Berlin-based Moped as well) plus a couple of angels including David Tisch.
How will Branch make money? Josh Millner provides some answers in the interview with Bloomberg TV:
Both, Medium and Branch seem like communication experiments from Biz Stone and Evan Williams, to figure out what form and functions fit the changed communication behaviour. And they have invited some high calibre beta testers to the dinner-table who will certainly shape the product with their feedback. Twitter started as a side product and some of its most valuable features emerged by accident or where invented by users (like re-tweets). Definitely a space to watch.
Gidsy goes Global + Adds New Social Features
It seems no accident that Gidsy’s launch-wave of a whole new batch of features is dubbed “Columbus”. The great explorer went out to conquer the world and acquired new skills along the way - and no lesser are the ambitions of the Berlin-based team around the Dekker brothers. From today on the marketplace for authentic experiences lifts the city-tied approach and is available in every tiny town. Meaning: no matter where you live, everybody is able to offer experiences on the Gidsy platform and find their audience. The new release also includes search functions to improve discovery and more social features to better promote your activities and connect with the like-minded people on your ‘gig’. Read all about it on the blog.
A very smart move, as it turns Gidsy into a true global marketplace and puts the opportunity into the hands of the community. Over the last months since its launch, Gidsy has become a central destination to find stuff to do and things learn that go well beyond insider city tours. When we interviewed Edial Dekker a couple of weeks ago about his favourite hot spots and hidden gems in his ‘Wahlheimat’ Berlin, he also gave us a snapshot of some Gidsy experiences.
Here’s a small selection:
Global Gidsy Experiences
Some Snapshots form the Gidsy x EyeEm Mobile Imaging Masterclasssoci
“ Viewing photos is not just about the ephemeral nature of snapshots, it’s about going back into your bedroom and opening your shoeboxes.
— Kevin Systrom on the launch of Instagram 3.0, which introduces PhotoMaps and puts the focus on location as primary search mechanic.
Although Instagram is still about putting up snapshots of life on the go, Systrom says that they learned geography might a bigger motivator to browse image content than the purely chronological feed. The missing discovery and was always a downer with Instagram and something Berlin-based EyeEm mastered from the start. EyeEm’s geo-located city albums as well as topical albums help you to visually connect with new people around you - or find those with similar interests.
This is the direction Instagram is heading - a visual discovery tool. “I want to tune into the London Olympics, or Burning Man by using location the same way you explore via hashtags or via a profile,” Systrom tells TC. “We eventually want 100% of photos to be geo-tagged.” Like a visual time travel engine, Systrom hopes Instagram could become your “backstage pass into anywhere in the world.”
Love Pictures? Love Hacking? - Save the DATE for PHOTO HACK DAY — SEPTEMBER 22/23
The snap-shot loving and sharing EyeEm crew is hosting another Photo-Hack-Day with a little help from a lot of friends: Facebook plus fellow Berlin start-ups Amen, 6Wunderkinder, Toast, Tweek.tv, Loopc.am … are joining the party.
The EyeEm team is known to mix a love for great photography with solid engineering and CTO Ramzi Rizk earned the title of “best coding photographer” from his founding team mates.
EyeEm MasterClasses have also become hugely popular and produced some amazing shots:
Got an idea for a hack? You can still submit suggestions here. Would love to have a mosaic print feature per album/user. Any takers?
Camera, Lights, Action!
“What do you imagine the world will look like in 2025?”
This is the overarching question of “FutureScapes”, an open collaboration project by Sony Europe and non-profit sustainability organisation Forum for the Future that brings together a range of expert thinkers, designers, futurologists, writers and the public to explore the opportunities and challenges we will be facing over the next “decade+”.
And the Future starts now: the project examines the impact and contributions technology will make on our daily lives – and the steps we can take today to live more sustainable in 2025.
Starting in November 2011, four technology concepts were explored in an initial ideation phase that concluded in the recent announcement of 4 concept partners. The team, mentioned below, will work on a digital platform, a product, a place and a philosophy in the coming months:
- Platform: The Internet of Things Academy “turns complex data into simple useful building blocks” / Concept Partner: Superflux
- Product: Wandular “a multipurpose modular device that evolves with you over your lifetime” / Concept Partner: Engage by Design
- Place: Hyper Village “a self-reliant ‘hi-tech x hi-nature’ rural community based in the developing or developed world and underpinned by the highest spec software and hardware” / Concept Partner: Pipeline Projects
- Philosophy: The Shift “explores the relationship between technology and wellbeing”/ Concept Partner: Forum for the Future
“This is NOW” rides the real-time-wave | Live Instagram Feed tunes into London / Sydney / New York / Tokyo
Remember the awesome CitySounds.fm? Hacked together by Henrik Berggren & Eric Wahlforss at a Music Hackday back in 2009, the simple and genius idea was to cluster SoundCloud tracks into City Channels, match it with pictures from Flickr and assemble all into a simple and beautiful layout. All was build in 48 hours and it even came with an iPhone app. Back in January we talked with Henrik & Eric about their love for hacks and early DJ encounters.
“This is NOW” is equally straight forward: Instagram images are grouped by cities into a live feed and dramatized with a ticking local time clock. Currently on display: London / Sydney / New York / Tokyo. The ‘Made in Sydney’ project picks up the real-time location trend and shows that simple data filters can do wonders. Berlin-based photo sharing and discovery app EyeEm started from the beginning with an album feature that let’s you easily choose different city streams - from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Copenhagen to Cape Town.
We’re looking forward to more of these real-time visualization projects to put method to the picture madness.
//INSTAGRAM x KEVIN SYSTROM// — Great piece on Instagram, its story and the team behind. Co-Founder Kevin Systrom: “I don’t like the idea of Instagram as a photo sharing service, and I don’t think it is, it’s very much a communication tool, it’s a visual communications tool.”
//TUNE IN// - Live #GRAMMY weekend video stream kicks off Friday, Feb. 10 - with the Social Media Rock Stars Summit
Moderated by Topspin Media CEO Ian Rogers — with CEOs of GetGlue, Shazam, Turntable.fm, and Spotify’s First Artist-in-Residence D.A. Wallach of Pop Duo Chester French. On the agenda: How Musicians Monetize Through Social, Mobile & Gaming.
One focus of last year’s panel was the use of mobile location services like Foursquare to connect audiences closer with live music venues.
//INTERVIEW x SOUNDCLOUD// — At the DLD conference in Munich SoundCloud Co-Founder Alex Ljung just announced that they hit the mark of 10 MILLION REGISTERED USERS, 7 million of those have only joined over the last year. The recent financing round in January - which is believed to have pumped another 50 million into the Berlin-based company - was already a testament to the expected dimension of growth.
In this excerpt from our interview, SoundCloud Co-Founder Eric Wahlforss talks to us about the “inevitable trajectory” towards building SoundCloud, why sound will be bigger than video and how launching the ‘record button’ has fueled the vision of unmuting the web everywhere.
DARE TO ASK: Erik Wahlforss (Co-Founder SoundCloud) / Henrik Berggren (Co-Founder ReadMill)
We meet the 2 “Swedish Imports” (and good friends) at the Readmill HQ in Berlin where they talk about Stockholm clubbing days, advice for young entrepreneurs, favourite sounds and (social) trust issues.