Thursday, 16 August 2012

Twitter Founders to Launch Two New Social Networks

Twitter founders create new social networks

With Twitter now firmly cemented as one of the key players in the social media world, it would be understandable if its founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, were to take a back seat and simply revel in the success of their creation. This is evidently not the case though, as the duos forward thinking nature has seen them launch two new social networks.


The first of these creations, Branch, sees the removal of the constraints present on Twitter by allowing users to partake in more in-depth discussions. Twitter users can sign in using their account and are then free to join in with whatever topics of discussion they so feel. One can even set up their own ‘branch’ to spark a dialogue on their desired subject. As a complimentary element to Twitter, users could move between the micro-blogging platform and Branch to expand their discussions and focus on certain issues that really matter to them. The Head of Product at Branch, Josh Miller, has noted that the network is designed to combine “the intimacy of a dinner table conversation with the power of the internet”. Subsequently, the network is expected to improve the quality of conversations and create an online dialogue, which is seen by Miller to be largely lost due to the domination of internet “monologues”.


Medium is a completely different type of publishing platform. Similar to Pinterest, Medium is a highly visual network which is built around ‘collections’.  Users can upload images and text, if they so wish, and then have their work viewed and voted on by others. Those that choose not to upload content can instead give authors feedback on their work. The collections that gain the highest ratings are then more likely to be viewed by others as they will feature prominently on the site. Users can choose to make their collections private though, in which case only designated people can view their work. Conversely, collections can even be left ‘open for more collaborative efforts’. Plainly, the level of contribution on Medium is entirely up to the user.

On the Medium site, Evan Williams goes into some depth on the vision behind it. Essentially the aim is to evolve the online publishing world. Williams notes that ‘in many ways, the web is still mimicking print concepts, while not even catching up to it in terms of layout, design, and clarity of experience’. Hence Medium will seek to address this by offering a quality and innovative publishing platform. He does admit that the site will be experimental for a time, expecting it to ‘evolve rapidly’ as they learn more about how the site is being used.

Is this anything new?
Criticism has been levelled at both sites for their seemingly strong likeness to other platforms. Whilst Medium has been called a ‘higher-brow version of Pinterest’, Branch has been compared to Menshn and Google+ Hangouts. It appears these new networks have most definitely borrowed many elements from successful social networks - it would be detrimental not to - but have put a new twist on things.

Through the Obvious Corporation, Williams and Stone have made a conscious effort to further existing aspects of social media. In the case of Branch, the dialogue element of social media has been refined. The site represents a destination to engage in and discover interesting conversations, which can branch over numerous posts. The aim is to spark quality conversation, ridding idle chat and petit arguments, although this is yet to be seen. There is even the possibility for Branch to be ‘embedded on any website’, expanding the possible audience and opening the discussion out to others.

Medium has been mostly put side by side with Pinterest but the difference being it is a publishing platform. It does appear at this early stage, with no disrespect to Pinterest, to signify a more intellectual social network. Whilst Pinterest does showcase some great and original work, there is also a fair amount which is rather vapid. Medium looks to only showcase the best work through featuring the highest rated posts and collections. Nevertheless, it seems a comparison between the two is worthless as they fulfil two different functions and attract varied audiences. The future of Medium is yet to be seen but, once open for use, it will be expected to gain many contributors with its elegant and easy to use format.

Credit must be given to Williams and Stone for their roles in looking to evolve the world of social media. They have certainly recognised some social network niches that require development and worked hard to improve them. Their philosophy that ‘quality begets quality’ will hopefully come to fruition as the less desirable elements of social media are ridded of in these new networks. 

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