Path‘s a new little social iPhone application which has gained some attention over the last week.
It calls itself a ‘personal network’, largely because you’re limited to 50 contacts. This, as you can imagine in a world where hundreds of Facebook friends and thousands of Twitter followers rule, is one of the aspects which has caught people’s attention most.
Path’s thinking is that with only 50 contacts max, you’ll think carefully about who’s in your network and subsequently be more comfortable about what you might be sharing with them. I like that.
I also like the fact that it’s picture based. It’s very simple. You take a picture with your iPhone, say what it is, where it is and who’s in it (though it doesn’t force you to include all of these) and then you post it. That’s it. It’s a bit like Foursquare, or Facebook’s Places, but uses pictures instead of only text. I like that too.
The way it presents the pictures from your friends is very nice. A letterbox crop until you touch it and then expanding to the full image. Like.
There are a couple of things that I think would add to it. The main one would be being able to comment on other people’s pictures. I’d also like to be able to use any of the images on my camera. I’ve taken a couple of pictures with my phone that I’ve subsequently thought I’d have like to have stuck on Path and can’t see a way to.
So is there a point to Path? I’m not sure as yet. I’m enjoying it, but I’m not sure whether I’ll continue to do so. It really needs – as ever – more of my friends and contacts using it. 50 contacts might seem restrictive to some, but I’ve only got five right now. It would be easy to dismiss it as not very useful. But a lot of people did that with Twitter at launch (myself included) and have changed their minds now (myself included).
I do find the idea of capping the number of people you can have in an online network interesting though, and was wondering whether the same limits might be useful in other places. Perhaps a number of different and small niche networks for specific areas of interest would be a good idea? I already run two Twitter accounts for instance.
Of course it depends on the type of content you’re posting in the network. I’m more than happy for my LinkedIn network to grow as big as it might like to, as long as I genuinely know every person in it (even if not very well). I certainly think that the breadth of my Facebook network makes me think twice about some of the content I post there, which it shouldn’t do really, so I reckon I could do with shrinking that one a bit.
Food for thought.