A new social network has opened their doors: Path. Path is the personal network. They limit your social network to only your 50 closest people in your social network. So, child within me had to check out this new social network and discover whether it was worthy of being entered into the pantheon of social networks my clients should use.
Before we start with the review, it feels really beneficial to describe the idea behind this new social network. The idea of Path can be found in the ideas of Oxford Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Robin Dunbar and his Dunbar number. Professor Dunbar postulated that the maximum number of people that we could closely associate with at any one time was 148. The idea being that throughout history this has been a break off point. When tribes grew bigger than 150 they turned into villages, Roman armies were divided into 150 men per unit, and the modern military is divided into similar numbers.
The Dunbar number is a very interesting idea and to use it as the foundation of a social network is an incredibly brilliant idea. In essence, Path is looking to become the anti-twitter. The reason behind this is because they focus 100% on the quality relationships around you, and not creating new relationships, which plays a large part in using Twitter. To clarify, Path is not anti-Twitter, it is based on the exact opposite premise of Twitter.
As I reviewed the site, however, I noticed that the site itself is definitely lacking. Although Path has announced their launch, the site is only available currently for iPhone users. Even through the web, I was not able to add photos, friends, or do some of the basic social networking tasks that most social networking users expect to find now-a-days.
That seems to be an “epic fail” in terms for a launch of a new social network. Path states on their blog and in the FAQ that they are coming out with the site on different smartphones, but that is wasted press and public goodwill. In the FAQ and Feedback section there was a lot of grumbling about the fact that you could not access information on the web. One topic, started just 5 days ago, 134 people asked when it would be possible to add friends from the web. Six people listed this as the best question in the forum. Some of the users seemed downright annoyed.
This is a great concept that looks like it will stay in the conceptual realm. There is no reason to keep using a site where I can not add friends, photos, or share updates(proud blackberry user). Additionally, a good number of my family and friends do not even use smartphones, so there is little incentive for me to join a new social network and be connected with part of my social network when I can stay on Facebook and just create a Facebook group exclusive to my personal Fab 50. This might change in the future, but Path does not look like a valuable new social network for me.