Path Guidelines

A while back I caught myself posting a work-related thought to Path. I realised that I’d broken one of my internalized guidelines (not rules) so I jotted them down in an attempt to stop myself doing the same thing again. James suggested that I should put them somewhere slightly more accessible so here they are, in a slightly modified form and with the entertaining but off-topic additions from friends removed.

  1. Don’t talk or moan about work; that’s what private Twitter accounts are for
  2. Only add people to your Path if you’ve had a drink or a meal with them
  3. Reduce pun threshold to lowest available setting
  4. Keep it mundane

So, there we go. Perhaps I should have retained the additions.

I like Path. This in part down to the quality design but a more compelling reason is users seem to find it hard to co-opt the service for self-promotion, marketing, link sharing etc (either intentionally or unintentionally). To date I’ve seen one link on Path and, er, I posted it (in my defence it was a link to an audio recording I’d made).

The posting of everyday stuff makes Path a more enjoyable social experience for me than Twitter. However, it’s probably also why the service doesn’t seem to be taking off in any appreciable way. I witnessed a brief flurry of new new users join during Christmas but three months on I only see semi-regular updates from 3 or 4. Some others watch for updates but don’t post. Of course, one of the things about an app-based social service built around strong privacy controls is that an individual perspective will be very subjective. Everyone in the world might be using Path but maybe they’re just not sharing with me.

I’m OK with that; I enjoy the updates from the few active users and enjoy posting my mundane bits and bobs. It’s ended up as a semi-private journal (which I guess is the intent) and goes some way to filling the ambient intimacy gap created by Twitter’s gradual shift from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” to the overwhelmingly inspiring “Compose new Tweet”.

There are a few things I’d change if I were King of Path, of course.

I rarely post video but I would like the option of posting audio with a location and image (Audioboo basically). Sound is easier to capture than video (no need to worry about framing or narrative) and I find it can be more evocative. I suppose one way of achieving this would be to stick my finger over the camera lens and shoot a video.

The music posting feels like a bit of an afterthought. Using the iTunes Store for the catalogue makes sense but means playback is limited to those 30 second snippets. There’s so much more that could be done. A simplistic play-all-posted- tracks-from-people-I-follow feature would be good. This is my jammy Path.

Covers seem rather pointless. I often admire my own cover but there’s no compelling reason to visit anyone else’s Path so suspect covers are rarely seen by anyone besides their owner.

And despite promises to the contrary, I’m not totally convinced I’ll be able to export my data should I choose to do so. A while ago Path’s helpdesk had a page on this topic, but it seems to have disappeared.

That’s probably not a good sign.

Despite the niggles, I’ll still be using Path, even if the few I’m left following give it up.