I read a Path 2.0 review on GigaOm’s theAppleBlog this morning and installed the app on my iPhone.
So what is Path? According to Colleen Taylor writing about the app’s launch for GigaOm:
Path 2 aims to be a “smart journal” that catalogs all the big and small moments of your daily life. Along with your photos and videos, the new app has features that let you keep track of your thoughts, the music you’re listening to, where you are, who you’re with, and even when you wake and when you sleep. You can choose to keep each update entirely to yourself, share it with your Path contacts (limited to 150 based on Dunbar’s number), or share it publicly via Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare (Tumblr support is on the way.)
I have heard of Path before and it didn’t really appeal to me but I thought I’d give it a try. I set up a Path pretty quickly on my phone and connected to the couple people I would include as friends for the purposes of personal sharing. I stopped there and wondered whether this sort of app would have value for me when I have Facebook available to me for more personal sharing and this blog for general sharing (not to mention Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Vimeo and more).
I suppose the point is that Path gives you the ability to publish a content stream to friends and family (you are limited to 150 people so you are encouraged to make your friends list a meaningful list) in a convenient mobile app. That is pretty much what I do on Facebook and Facebook isn’t limited to iOS and Android like Path is. It is also not another social network for my mom and wife to join and use in tandem with Facebook. That said, its a beautiful and dynamic app but design and functionality generally isn’t enough to sway users en masse. Ultimately, sharing only works if the people you want to share with are using the same service as you.
Never mind the Google+ vs Facebook vs Twitter debate, there are pretty strong similarities between Google+ and Tumblr and Posterous. I used to use Posterous and Tumblr depending on my mood and closed down my Posterous site when I realised I didn’t really have a need for it given my preference for Tumblr anyway. Besides, I have a long standing WordPress blog which seems to keep ticking along and I keep thinking that is a wasted resource I should be tapping.
And then along comes Google+ and I lost myself in it for a couple weeks before emerging with a new appreciation for Twitter and Facebook and their different roles in my social Web experience. I posted a couple more times to Tumblr, tempted to finally just migrate there fully but then I would be abandoning this blog which has a larger following and has a history to it. It is basically my first real blog which I created in December 2004 and took through various incarnations in the last 5 years. That said, I still wonder just how important a long form blog is where so much sharing is on a much smaller and more dynamic scale. I haven’t exactly blogged consistently so my blog’s value to my readers has somewhat diminished in comparison to Twitter, Facebook (for personal stuff) and Google+.
Anyway, back to Tumblr. Tumblr appeals to me pretty strongly. I follow a number of blogs which I enjoy and its really easy to share posts I come across and which appeal to me. I haven’t really felt motivated to work at my Tumblr blog because its been more of a hobby to me than a serious blogging tool. Its fun, creative, inspiring. When it comes to meaningful engagement, Tumblr is a metaphorical dusty street in an old Western town complete with tumbleweed.
Aside from the lack of the sort of formatting options that are available to blogging platforms like Tumblr, Google+ has proved to be almost as capable as Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook (combined) for sharing and engagement. Granted you are pretty much locked into the Google ecosystem unless you use 3rd party browser extensions to share beyond Google+, you can still share stuff pretty easily and enjoy pretty active engagements at the same time. What Google+ does do that you can’t really do with Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter is export your Google+ data using what appear to be open standards and theoretically import that data into a compatible system. In Tumblr’s context, that is a big deal for me. I never liked the virtual lock-in you have to accept with Tumblr (thank goodness for WooThemes’ tumblr2wp service which enables you export your Tumblr blog to WordPress very effectively).
So here I am having a relatively meaningless (in the grander scheme of things) and very 21st century debate about whether I should bother maintaining my better looking and relatively independent Tumblr blog? Or should I just use Tumblr purely to consume content and switch to Google+ for the non-personal/family oriented sharing (Facebook still has that side of my social experience locked down because all my friends and family are there, not on Google+)?
As I type this I am leaning more towards Google+ for that sort of sharing going forward but tomorrow is a new day and I tend to change my mind a lot when debating these sorts of things. What do you think?