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.

  • Hunter Walk

    awwright, you’ve inspired me to write a Path post that’s been knocking around in my head for the last few days. Enjoyed this – thanks!

  • http://profiles.google.com/cyrus.radfar Cyrus Radfar

    I’ve been using it and have one big problem.  I hate saying no to people.  I have been keeping a tight group and my heuristic has been simple: “Do I have blackmail material on this person?” It’s been working thus far, but I think that the downfall of the app is the fact that people have a hard time saying no to people and we will quickly no longer be able to respond to one another authentically.

    My biggest pet peave is that people can post Path moments publicly on Twitter so random people can see that I’ve seen that post.  I am really bothered by that b/c you have no control over whether or not you mark a post as “seen.”

    Good thoughts, btw.

  • http://www.charleshudson.net chudson

    I too am struggling with saying no. Ive said maybe to a lot of people. Agree that its challenging for sure.

  • Anonymous

    Yeh I think the restrain to say ‘no’ is a big issue. The complexity to this challenge is that early adopters like us are the first to jump onto apps like Path (although I managed to get my Mum onto it after showing her the utility to passively communicate with me). My close friends are not those early adopters. However the early adopters are people I want to be closer friends with over-time, so I don’t want to offend them.

    I have found myself contacting people I decline directly through Facebook or Twitter to apologize and explain my decline. It would be nice if Path accounted for that scenario.