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Why I Like Path

I was not particularly impressed with the first iteration of Path. I just couldn’t relate to the need to restrict photo sharing to a limited number of people. So I’ve been surprised how much I like Path 2.0. I written before about how my own social network usage is changing ( you can read those posts here and here).

Whenever I try out a new product, I always try to ask myself what question the designer was trying to answer by building it. When I first started using Path, the core question behind it seemed clear to me:

What kind of information would you share if you could keep it within a network of people you really trust and like?

I think the answer is simple – you’d probably be willing to share a lot, including location, what you’re thinking, the people with whom you’re hanging out, and whether you’re asleep or awake. In my last weeks using the new Path, I think they’ve succeeded in creating something that feels useful and interesting of your Facebook graph has become too big and spans too many parts of your life. A few quick thoughts.

Features that feel creepy in a large social network like Facebook don’t feel creepy on Path. When I saw the first, “Person X visited your Path” message in the tray, I was a bit taken aback. It seemed weird to have that kind of insight. But once I realized the people visiting my Path were close friends, it didn’t feel so weird. I kinda liked it, actually.

Choosing which friends to include on Path is hard. Because Path feels like the product is geared around feeling comfortable sharing with a tight trusted group, it really matters who you include. I’ve been sitting on a bunch of Path requests because I’m not yet sure which people to invite.

Many people I know have Facebook graphs that span work colleagues, casual acquaintances, school friends, close friends, and others. Having an amalgamated graph with different contexts generally leads to people thinking harder about what to share on Facebook. I know that my sharing habits have changed as my graph has grown – I share less and the things I share are (I hope) interesting to a large chunk of my Facebook friends. I’ve already seen my small group of friends sharing things on Path that they weren’t sharing on Facebook. It will be interesting to see whether people with large social graphs opt for something like Path or go back and curate their existing friendships on Facebook to facilitate context-appropriate sharing.

As always, comments are open or you can message me on Twitter @chudson if you prefer.

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