Path, the latest hyped “innovation” in social networking, is a self-proclaimed smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love. In essence a private social network that allows you to check in, share photos, music, and thoughts with no more then 150 of your closest pre-approved friends.
The iOS app has gorgeous execution and an innate friendliness to it that makes you instantly want to click, touch and play with the various screens and features. It’s delicate use of textures with playful elements, such as a clock that spins its dial as you scroll through your feeds “moments” (what Path calls posts) bring out a childlike playfulness and intimacy with the app that Facebook’s and Twitter’s apps are severely lacking.
I’ve been using Path for almost a month now, and initially found it fun, exciting, and inspiring. The childlike sense of wonder in its interface and the novelty of ending my day with “going to sleep” and starting it with “waking up” made the app and network a real pleasure to use. However, the longer I have used the application, the more it has revealed itself to be woefully insubstantial in meaningful content.
Lacking in Content
The application focuses far too heavily on the same insignificant and often times meaningless minutia of everyday life that Twitter was criticized for before it was realized as powerful tool for networking and content curation. The fundamental structure of Path is one that inherently negates the ability to do either of these. By very definition of private social network, it cannot allow for the huge reach of a Twitter account with instantly eliminates almost all possibility of interacting with industry and thought influencers. Secondly, the limited sharing options stop users from sharing the valuable educational, and often times entertaining, content that Facebook does so well.
Theoretically, the idea of a personal and private social network where one can choose to share intimate and private thoughts with a select group of friends is a very strong one, but in practice it turns out to be limiting, frustrating and most of all boring. In theory, the idea of Path can be metaphorically related to communism- in it’s ideal state it could be a powerful and awesome tool bringing health and wellness to the masses, but in practice it seems only doomed to fail.
Not all is at a loss though; there is still hope for the development team at Path given the astoundingly original and amazingly intuitive user interface they have built I can only imagine there is a bright future in the mobile app development world for those individuals. Personally, I look forward to seeing what they produce.