What’s this? An online social networking service which actually dares to set an upper limit of how many friends you can have in the depths of cyberspace? This has got to be the biggest blasphemy in the world of online social networking right? Well, maybe not, if one takes into consideration what Path, a new social networking service for the iOS, is actually designed for.
Read on to find out more about this mysterious new online social networking service.
For some, the number of friends one has in social networking sites is usually useful for bragging rights. But believe it or not, there are people in the world who believe that it is the quality that is important when it comes to actually making ‘real friends’.
This brings us to an obligatory theory about the human brain. About two decades ago, R.I.M Dunbar, a British anthropologist and evolutionary biologist coined a theory that the human brain can only accept a stable social relationship with a fixed number of people. This number, known as Dunbar’s Number, stands between 100 and 230, although 150 is usually agreed upon as an average.
Now, you might be wondering how Dunbar’s Number is related to online social networking. Apparently, some users have felt that the large number of ‘friends’ one can rack up on such services is a barrier to sharing intimate details, an action which was, and still is reserved only to those who are located deepest within a person’s inner circle.
And it is this perceived barrier to intimacy which has led fomer Facebook executive Dave Morin to set up a new social networking service. Known as Path, it places emphasis on the quality of friends as opposed to the quantity. This is most easily seen from the fact that Path will not allow users to amass more than 50 friends in a single account.
This is a huge gamble, but Morin claimed that his team had conducted their own calculations to obtain their numbers. This was done by estimating up to five people in one’s innermost circle, followed by approximately 15 ‘best friends’ and about two to three times that number of ‘trustworthy friends’. Path calls this The Personal Network, which is built around the premise of a “reciprocal relationship”. To draw a parallel, sharing information with one’s Personal Network is akin to that of close friends talking about their more private and intimate details in real life.
In addition to the ’50 friends’ limit, Path boasts the ability to micromanage friends up to the point where users can filter information posted on Path for specific friends, and track the names of friends who have viewed posted content. There is also the ability to ‘pause’ a friend, which allows the user to block off any updates from a particular friend.
Last but not least, Path only allows information between friends to be shared via the use of photographs. This makes sense considering that Path is currently available only for iOS devices, although Android and Blackberry support is in the works. And while Morin has stated that support for text links or videos may be added in future, the sole method of communicating with friends via Path for now is through photographs taken on a smartphone’s or slate’s camera.
But does Path have enough traction to gain popularity in a market largely dominated by the likes of Facebook and Twitter? That, we can only wait and see. However, from the looks of it, Path does offer a refreshing change to the online social networking landscape in its own way.
*Path is currently available as a free download on the iTunes App Store.
Reference and image: Wired.com