The Path less taken
April 27, 2012
By Courtney Sherlock, Intern
Over the course of one day you’ll wake up, eat a few meals, get some work done, exercise (or at least think about it), hang out with friends and family, maybe go shopping or watch the Preds win another game and finally, go to bed. Of course, you know this because this is your daily life, but what about the rest of the people in the world who are eagerly awaiting your next big move? Don’t you think we all need to know what café you can always be found at or when your baby girl says her first word (we’d also like to see a video of that, please).
Apparently the gods of social media don’t think we share enough of our lives on public platforms and are nurturing their infant app Path to become our most intimate outlet yet. Path is designed with limitations on how many friends you can interact with (150, the supposed scientific number of how many close friends one acquires in a lifetime) and utilizes a basic interface, unlike Facebook’s, in order to make updating the world about your current happenings as mindless as tying your shoes. The app, currently only available on phones, markets itself to being a “simple way to keep a journal, or ‘Path,’ of your life on the go.”
By now, we’ve gotten used to life with Facebook, despite its frequent updates, and can’t imagine a world without it (where else would we stalk our “frenemies” or find out about this weekend’s plans?). We’ve grown accustomed to sharing awkward moments and deep thoughts of the day in under 140 characters on Twitter and we’ve become addicted to designing our dream lives on Pinterest. Do we really need or have room for another social media outlet? Google+ tried to fit in to the group but was quickly shunned by everyone but hipsters and Silicon Valley employees. Is there really space in the market for Path?
One of the biggest problems with Path is that it just doesn’t seem to be catching on. I joined the app a few weeks ago and have a grand total of five connections, of which I only regularly keep up with one in real life. Honestly, I’m not sold on the idea of needing a separate outlet to share my most personal moments. If it’s not already on Facebook and I genuinely care to tell you, I’ll write you a letter. Sure, Path’s interface is nice in that I don’t have to put up with receiving an invite to a birthday party for an acquaintance’s cat or be faced with the pressure of joining a knitting group, but I’ve learned the art of blocking and unsubscribing on Facebook to eliminate those annoyances.
Furthermore, Path just seems a little too invasive. As soon as I signed up, it suggested I “follow the path” of a guy I once went on a date with… who I’m not even Facebook friends with (and that’s kind of a big deal). So why was Path suggesting we be friends here? Matchmaking? Doubtful. After doing some investigating (my last name is Sherlock, after all), I found that Path had some negative press for compiling and saving all of your phone’s contact information onto external servers. Hmm. So that explains one thing, but I’m still confused as to why Path suggested I connect with my friend’s roommate’s cousin’s great-aunt. If the point of Path is to maintain a small, intimate group, shouldn’t it be suggesting people I actually know?
Ok, moving beyond my personal qualms now.
At first glance, Path doesn’t seem to have any practical uses in the business world, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored completely. Who would have thought Twitter and Facebook would be used commercially to the extent it is today? Maybe Path will be utilized as a tool to generate a greater sense of companywide camaraderie, or perhaps it will be used to bring insight on how customers are using certain products. But there’s also the chance that Path will just die a quiet death like Xanga did, and we’ll never have to adjust to the app in the corporate realm. I guess we’ll just have to watch and see.
If you’re interested in learning more about the app, check out this quick video.
And if you decide to join Path, don’t forget to update the world on when you fall asleep and when you wake up. As for me, I’m signing off.