My history with the social networks is patchy at best. I’ve been a Facebook member twice, but used it sparingly. The first time I went as my actual name (weird right?) and found it kinda ugly and a chore to use. I was interested in the technology of Facebook, but that’s about it. I decided to delete my account after receiving many friend requests from people I was barely friends with, but mainly because I rarely used Facebook at all.
The second time I went under the alias Jeffrey Lebowski to avoid non-friends tracking me down and requesting virtual friendships. The reason for a second sign up was to view the photos of some travelling mates. This was all well and good until a) these friends came back home, and b) I surpassed all previous records of friend requests. Who would’ve guessed Jeffery Lebowski would be so popular?
Now we have Path. A not-so-new new social service/network, recently matured into version 2.0. And I’m on it.
It’s just like Facebook
…is what James said, jesting at my long-time rejection of the big F-B. It is like Facebook in loose concept, but not really. Yes, you share ‘moments’ with your ‘friends’, but it doesn’t feel like a big dumping ground to me like Facebook did. You don’t relive your life online, you share parts of it. Path is a twitter-sized Facebook.
You don’t put all the photos from your trip to Bali on there, you select one or two and share them — like Instagram. You don’t scribble on anyone’s wall, you succinctly post ‘thoughts’ — like Twitter. You don’t change your status, you change your ‘cover image’ (Hmmm, wonder where they got that idea?).
Path is considered. At least the way I use it. And I don’t feel any pressure to add as many friends as possible (not that I’ve ever felt that way, and besides, it’s limited to 150 friends). In fact, I’ve already removed or ignored some people. It’s nothing personal, I’m just tailoring my time and focus to people I’m truly interested in knowing about — my actual friends.
It’s just like Twitter and Instagram
So why am I enamoured with Path? Part of it is because it combines the services of Twitter and Instagram, two of my most used social indulgences.
Twitter is good for mini thoughts let loose into the world. Little joys or large frustrations. Letting them out actually feels a little bit good. I can do this with Path, and it gives other a bit of context because you can add who you’re with or a photo or your location.
As I’ve said before, Instagram is like Twitter with pictures, great for a visual person like myself. The real genius behind Instagram is its ease of use: you take a photo, give it one of a dozen of so effects, and upload it — all within the one app. I can do this with Path too. (Granted, it doesn’t have many effects — a half-dozen or so — but this can actually be liberating).
Essentially I have both my favourite services in the same app. I don’t need to leave to read or post tweet-like thoughts, and I don’t need to leave to see or post Instagram-like photos. It sports a nice, homescreen-refreshing red icon, but this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of design.
The best UI on an iPhone app I’ve ever used
I’ve been thinking about that statement since I started using Path not even a week ago. Aside from games which often have unique and experimental UIs, Path makes it fun use and share your tidbits. The animations are quick and nifty, enlarging photos is smooth, and the moving clock/timeline indicator is clever and looks beautiful (at least on the 4S).
In a nutshell, it’s delightful. It really is.
I’m not going into a blow-by-blow of the design here. The app is free so you have no excuse not to download it and have a play yourself.
Will I last?
At the moment, I believe I’ll eventually recede into the ‘this is a waste of my time’ headspace as I do a few times each year. A time where I think deeply about my involvement in the world and how we are amusing ourselves to death.
For me Path is more like Twitter/Instagram than Facebook, and I think for this reason it will keep me
hooked enamoured for a while. At least much longer than Facebook ever did.