Is Privacy the Cost of Convenience?

Privacy, convenience, direct mail, direct marketingAfter the recent outcry from users when Instagram changed their Terms of Service, I started thinking a little more about privacy and how much we’re willing to give up to use some of these social media platforms. I don’t operate under any delusions that there isn’t some sort of cost inherent with using these free social and online services. They are, after all, going into these start-up ventures to make money from their service, one way or the other. I try to refrain from knee-jerk reactions anymore, especially with as quickly as misinformation can spread.

Recently, a piece of direct mail showed up in my mailbox. It was for OutboxAustin.com (It’s actually just Outbox, but targeted to acquiring Austin residents). The tagline on the piece proudly stated: “This could be the last piece of junkmail you ever receive!” Needless to say, I was intrigued. Could this be like that program that allows you to unsubscribe from all the junk mail you receive in your email inbox, but in real life? I decided to look into it a little. What I found was pretty surprising:

So what do you think about this method of convenience? Is this something you’d be willing to do, or have you already given Outbox a try? If you’re a direct marketer, how does do you feel about this type of program? I’d love to hear your thoughts below, or in the comments section of the YouTube video.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Interview with Erez Tal, CEO of Pinto

Pin pictures directly to Facebook albums and share with friends

What if I told you there was an app that featured some of the things we love about Instagram (adding unique filters to pictures) and Pinterest (pinning a collection of things we love into one place) that your friends and family could share in, without ever leaving Facebook? Pinto (pronounced Pin-too) is that app. Once added, Pinto allows you to save (or pin, if you prefer) pictures from anywhere around the web into albums right on Facebook. Make collections of things you love, plan a vacation, make a wish list, all right where pretty much everyone you know is already spending a good deal of their time online. [I've done a video blog post of the process here.] As they put it:

“Pinto is your own Facebook photo blog, it is your own Facebook magazine, wishlist and theme organiser. Collect the things you love, edit them with your style and let your friends know about it.”

Yoni Ram (CEO of Sociabell, the best social search app on Facebook, who I interviewed earlier this year) introduced me to Pinto’s CEO, Erez Tal, who was happy to do an interview with me.

Rob: What’s the story behind Pinto? What inspired you to create this app?

Erez: As a Facebook user, I find myself visiting Facebook and getting updates from my friends at least twice a day, it simply became a need to get live info that is available and to share the things you like to share. As a Pinterest user, I found it cool collecting and tagging some photos I like to my boards, with my own categories and albums, exploring more photos and new ideas on the photo boards of people I follow. With the fact that I only remember to check new interesting Pinterest photos twice a week on average, and with the time I spend on Facebook I thought “Why don’t we have an option to pin directly to the Facebook albums?” Here comes the Pinto idea – Pin any image that you like directly to a Facebook album.

Rob: You’ve told me that mobile is the next direction for Pinto. Can you tell us a little about what we can expect to see?

Erez: Pinto is fresh on its beta version for all web browsers and we’ve already received feedback from users willing to use Pinto with on mobile phones and tablets. With the understanding that most people are using mobile more and more to interact on Facebook and to search and browse the internet, we are definitely going to introduce a cool mobile app that will allow Pinto user to manage and collect new interesting stuff to their Facebook albums.

Rob: What makes Pinto a better option than external sites like Pinterest or Fancy for Facebook users?

Photo with one of Pinto's filters added

Photo with one of Pinto’s filters added

Erez: Pinto was created specifically for Facebook users. The users now don’t need to exit Facebook to view notifications that a friend pinned new image the her “Winter 2013 Fashion” album or notifications that another friend pinned new photos to his “Dream Cars” album or “Vacations Wish List” album. It’s all there in Facebook, visible on the friends’ albums and on the Facebook news feed. We believe that with the cool option to add effects and frames to the photos we are bringing a new exciting experience for the Facebook users. There is a lot to expect. We are very focused on making Pinto mobile app useful in the eyes of the user and covering the gap between Facebook users and external sites’ content.

Rob: Aside from going mobile, what else is in the future for Pinto?

Erez: We are creating a new version for Pinto that allows many more options on Facebook, adding users’ aspect of social imaging elements by categories of interests, by search, by products. There are more things to expect.

Rob: You’re located in Israel. What is the startup climate like right now in Israel? Can you talk a bit about being part of the tech/startup explosion going on there right now?

Erez: The thing in Israel is that we are located in a very small, intense and crowded industry of hi-tech companies. Although Israel is small, there are many startup companies found here. For those who are living with the techy products and getting inspiration from the surrounding hi-tech environment, it is a great surface for turning ideas into reality. During some focus groups and after shaping the idea and its platform, we have come up with the option to edit the photos and give it a personal style according to the user’s mood and personal style.

Rob: Do you have any advice for upcoming entrepreneurs and startup hopefuls?

Erez: I’m always looking for the gaps I can provide with a solution while trying to make it creatively, the gaps can be a technologically gap, missing functionalities or services. If you have a dream, don’t get back to sleep cause it will only come back as a dream. Take your idea, make sure the users are getting the best out of it, and start developing it.

Streamlining and sharing, isn’t that what web technology is all about? If you want to start using Pinto, go the to the website: http://pin2.it or check out the Facebook page. Give it a try, and let me know what you think. Is it better to have your collections all in one place, with that place being Facebook?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Rise of the Social Homepages

Time is becoming a very precious thing indeed. Trying to keep up on blogs, social networks, news, friends, family, work, and having non-computer related experiences create a life of constant pull on our attention. This constant pull in a gazillion different directions is exactly why I think these “Social homepages” are becoming more and more relevant. I’ve only joined two so far, and each has some functionalities that they can boast. Basically, they connect all of your social status updates and put them in a visual ‘homepage’ where one can visit and see everything that you’re sharing. The key here is the visual element. Photos you take, images pulled from links, videos; all these create a visually engaging aesthetic that will save your friends and followers time from visiting all of your networks. Let’s take a look at them.

Social networks all in one place

RebelMouse was created by by the former CTO of The Huffington Post, Paul Berry. It’s still in beta but is receiving a huge amount of buzz. Features have already been added from when I first received my invite. You can now embed your RebelMouse into your website or blog, thus making all your social updates visible from either. This is huge because your customers, potential clients, or friends don’t have to leave the place you’re putting your best work, as well as your products or services. You also have the ability to highlight certain posts that you want to stay stationary and maintain good real estate on your page, which I love!  As of right now, RebelMouse allows you to pull updates from Facebook profiles and pages, Twitter (you’ll need to use either to create your account) and just recently, Instagram. In an interview on July 9th, Paul Berry states that more networks are coming, such as Google+ and Tumblr. You can also manually add stories, which I imagine people who fully embrace their RebelMouse page as a homepage will be doing often. You can create separate RebelMouse pages for Facebook pages of which you are an admin, which is a great advantage to admins of multiple pages that aren’t really related. You can view others in your Facebook or Twitter networks that are using RebelMouse and follow their pages. Since it’s still in public beta, I can’t wait to see what new things come out of this already-popular platform.

glos.si for social networks

I was actually reached out to on Twitter by glos.si’s co-founder Sandy Lin while tweeting about RebelMouse (good poaching!). Since I dug RebelMouse, I figured it was worth a look, and I set up my own glos.si page. The first thing I noticed was that glos.si takes the same approach that Klout does and connects just about every social network under the sun. The designers to a great job of helping users show off their networks by listing them with icons in the profile heading. This is nice, just in case followers want to go and focus solely on a single network. glos.si uses the same idea I mention above for RebelMouse of creating something visually engaging, with your Foursquare updates staying stationary on the right and your other updates visually represented in tiled columns to the left. The option to change your view between images, articles, videos and everything makes reading pages a breeze. You also get to choose a background image, thus creating an even more personalized experience. The site uses a pretty cool randomized search to allow you to connect with other glos.si users not already in your other networks. As for connecting with friends using glos.si, you can only search Facebook and Twitter. One feature that I find really cool is the Newsstand feature. This creates a glos.si page of updates from everyone you follow, saving you even more time.

RebelMouse is already a slick platform with a very believable promise that there’s more to come. glos.si has a great interface already, and is strides ahead of RebelMouse since it was started back in September last year. Once RebelMouse comes of out beta, these two will certainly be in head to head competition. I’ll be interested to see where the two of them go.

Are you using either of these sites? Are there other “social homepage” sites that you’ve come across? Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Brand Your Instagram Photos Using Over App

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A couple weeks ago, Chris Brogan tweeted about an app he was digging and shared a Google Hangout he had with a guy named Aaron Marshall. The app was called Over, and it allows you to add text over pictures on your iPhone (for the time being) using a really slick interface. You can then post your edited photos to Facebook (profile not page, yet), Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr (having issues getting mine to show up though) or send the image via email. I’ve yet to have Chris Brogan steer me wrong, so I checked out the app myself. Seemed like a fun way to spice up photos and I really enjoy the use of a scrolling wheel to go through all of your options. Later, I read a blog post shared by Valerie Deveza reminding bloggers that you can (and should) easily use your own, royalty-free images in your blog posts. This saves time scouring for usable images (and potential distractions of perusing the internet) and any concern of copyright infringement. Then. It hit me.

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A fantastic use for Over is to “brand” your photos that you take on your iPhone. If you already use Instagram or Facebook Camera, take your pictures and add your filters as normal. Open Over and load the picture in, add your company name, website, your name, message, etc, choose a font (more are available for individual purchase) and suddenly, the photo is officially yours. Also, if you’re a fan of Paper by 53 for the iPad (of which I am a raving fan), you can doodle your image, email it to yourself or screen capture it, add your text with Over, and suddenly it becomes branded as well. (Conversely, you could write out your company’s name/info in Paper if you have a steady hand, but I know many professionals whose handwriting is pretty atrocious.) Either way, you’ll get to show off your creative side and never worry if you’re going to receive a cease and desist letter for an image you’re using. Even with proper credit, you just can’t be too sure when using others’ intellectual property.

Fifty-Three, Yelp, Over App

Drawn with Paper by 53, text added with Over

The best part about using Over with the apps I’ve discussed is that you don’t have to go and buy (or illegally download) any expensive software. Over and Paper may cost you a few bucks, then you’re off to writing your blog safely, further engaging your creativity and artistic side. Just think. You could even create your own memes!

What are your thoughts on this approach? Are you using any other text-overlay apps that you’re hooked on? Are you already using your own images in your blog posts?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Can’t Keep Up? Which New Social Networks to Consider or Ignore (Part 3)

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve begun dabbling in other social networks, just to see what kind of things are popping up now that Facebook had its less-than-stellar IPO. Although I still see Facebook hanging around for quite a while, there are definitely some others that may be worth noting.

Path not Pinterest

Path – The mobile-only network

Path

You can’t talk about emerging social networks without bringing up Path. I won’t spend too much time discussing this one, as I’ve actually already written a blog post reviewing it here. There are still some aspects of Path that could bear improvement, and for me it’s still not quite engaging, since I haven’t succumbed to adding a bunch of randos yet. I think it sorely needs some sort of way to search out common interests for those of us who don’t have a bunch of friends on it. Otherwise, it’s a great mobile app with a fluid interface. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth a look, especially if you’re heavily involved in the mobile sphere.

Another network that just came to my attention as emerging is Social Dashboard. I came across this article thanks to Repost.us, and I have requested to be accepted as a beta tester. For now, you can read up on this “socially conscious” network (or is it a browser? Not sure yet). The big deal with this network is that there’s a major focus on respecting user privacy, not profiting from user information, and streamlining with other networks. Sounds interesting and I hope to get more information to share soon!

5 years ago Facebook replaced MySpace. 2 years ago the movie “Social Network” exposed Facebook’s beginnings. Today, Facebook’s User Agreement permits them to sell your behaviors to the highest bidder. Social Dashboard is being developed as the next leading social network. Palo Alto, CA (PRWEB…

Continue reading

Can’t Keep Up? Which New Social Networks to Consider or Ignore (Part 2)

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve begun dabbling in other social networks, just to see what kind of things are popping up now that Facebook had its less-than-stellar IPO. Although I still see Facebook hanging around for quite a while, there are definitely some others that may be worth noting. A couple I’ve been invited to as Klout perks (and I’m a sucker for free stuff and exclusive access) and a couple are already establishing themselves well.

LoveIt touts that it is “your personalized visual community where you can easily share everything that interests you, find people who have similar tastes and discover new things you may not have found otherwise.” That’s all well and good, but I haven’t been able to find a single thing that distinguishes it from Pinterest other than the cute squirrel logo. I came across LoveIt as a Klout perk, gaining early access to it. Once I signed up, It was immediately evident that it was going to be a Pinterest-type site. I gave it a chance though, and began actively searching for things that differentiated it from its predecessor. Now, I understand taking an idea and trying to improve on it with new features or better functionality, but this is not the case. LoveIt is exactly like Pinterest. I can’t find any distinguishing characteristics. If I’m missing something, let me know. Otherwise, if you already have Pinterest, skip this one folks. It’s not worth starting your boards all over again. Sorry LoveIt, you’re just not original enough for me to love it.

Image from Learni.st

Learni.st is another social network that bears similarity to Pinterest. This one, however, makes certain to distinguish itself from its predecessor both in improved functionality and cause. Learni.st is meant to be a learning community. As their help board puts it “Use Learnist to share what you know. Create a Learn Board on a subject you understand and add ‘learnings’ by pointing to existing web videos, blogs, images and documents. Anything.” The site cleverly has an entire section of Learn Boards dedicated solely to the user experience, complete with FAQs, problem reporting, feedback and terms of service. Learni.st is currently in live beta, where you can sign up and use some of the site’s primary functions. You can get full access if someone invites you (see below if you’d like me to send you an invitation to get started!).

There are a handful of key distinguishing factors that I think make Learni.st pretty cool:

  • Your interaction is more than just liking or re-adding (i.e. repinning) a post. You can actually check off that you’ve ‘learned’ it, and your profile will keep track of your learning progress in specific categories. In this way, you can actually visually build up your credibility in a category by showing how many blogs you’ve read, videos you’ve watched or articles you’ve perused. You can also check up on others’ progress on their profile and see if they’re a resident expert, or still have some work to put in.
  • If someone has a Learn Board that interests you, you can follow and like that board. Even better, if you have something you think would make a great addition to that board, you can suggest a learning for that user. Suddenly boards can become community projects, which enriches the experience of other visitors to that board.
  • Let’s face it. Some sites just aren’t pin friendly. Either the images don’t come up to select, or the ones that do come up are rubbish (or ads for something unrelated). Learni.st lets you get around that by allowing you to directly link to an image URL or upload your own images. I’ve found it nice to use a grabbing or snipping tool to capture something from the page and save it to my computer, then upload the image to represent my learning. You may even be able to use Curate.us to create an image, although I haven’t tried that yet.
  • As is becoming a standard, you can add an applet to your bookmarks bar, allowing you to ‘Learn It!’ whenever you’re browsing the web. I really dig that ability. Streamlining is key.

A snip of what the Learni.st interface looks like

The team at Learni.st are obviously still working out some bugs, since it is in beta, but they have been amazingly quick to respond, and the turnaround and communication is unparalleled. This is a great set of people, with an awesome mission, and brilliant customer service. I’ll be using Learni.st for a while. I want to see this one launch.

There are a couple areas of potential improvement. An on-site notification of interaction (likes, follows, comments, etc) would be great. To my knowledge, there is not anything set up aside for email notifications. Also, tagging people in comments would be nice, especially if you want to recommend that someone checks out the board. This may help with inter-board traffic, which will enhance the social feature a bit more.
Are you using Learni.st already? Do you want to check it out with full functionality? If you leave a comment below and email me at robzaleski1@gmail.com (if you’re not comfortable tossing your email address in a comment), I will send you an invitation for full access! Watch for part 3 of this series next week.

Now go get your social on!

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Can’t Keep Up? Which New Social Networks to Consider or Ignore (Part 1)

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve begun dabbling in other social networks, just to see what kind of things are popping up now that Facebook had its less-than-stellar IPO. Although obviously Facebook will be hanging around for quite a while, there are definitely some others outside the top 5 (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest) that may be worth noting. A couple I’ve been invited to as Klout perks (and I’m a sucker for free stuff and exclusive access) and a couple are already establishing themselves well. Let’s take a look.

Image courtesy of So.cl

So.cl (pronounced “social”) is an experiment in social search from Microsoft and FUSE Labs. It has the appearance of a social network (most closely resembling Google+) but is more of a piggy-back network. So.cl gives up some functionality that other big social networks have, touting in its FAQs that it is an experiment on the fusion of social and search. In their words So.cl “Let’s you use search to express and share ideas though beautiful story collages.” Here’s the setup.

  • You have a feed that you can filter by Everyone, People I Follow, My Interests (which you pick upon setup), Conversations (between you and other So.cl users) and your own posts. You have the option to like posts (using the “:)” emoticon button), “riff” on a post (add your own visual reaction via an image that you search for), comment or share. So far, clicking the like button doesn’t seem to undo the function, so be careful that you’re sure you like a post.
  • So.cl has a function called “video parties” that I initially expected to be similar to Google+ Hangouts. Turns out, you can join one and add videos for others to watch (typically revolving around a theme). It ends up becoming almost a crowdsourced MTV (y’know, since MTV doesn’t actually show music videos anymore). This function is pretty cool. You could start a party of 80’s hair metal and get a group of people who love big hair rock to all add videos. Anyone can join (there doesn’t seem to be a private setting, so you may have to watch for eventual trolls to ruin the fun). You can even keep the videos playing in the rightmost column of your page while you continue to work away, creating background music for you while still allowing you to view the video without being stuck in a chat room-like setting.
  • You search (using Bing) for terms and post updates all in the same box. This is not by accident. Your searches are completely public (unless you click the button to the right of your search term box, thus locking it). The reason for this is that your searches are meant to become visual representations on your post so others can see. So.cl display search results from the network, from people you follow, and from general internet results, much like Sociabell does for Facebook. You can also opt to make So.cl your default search in your browser so that you can “benefit” from So.cl (as the site claims). People, please be careful with this. I already called out a guy who searched for popular adult film star Alexis Texas, and his search (along with numerous pictures of her abundant derrière) showed up as a headline on the top of my feed, and likely many others’ as well. He promptly deleted the search term post from his profile after I commented. Embarrassing.
  • The posting mechanism is very similar to Google+ in that you add links separately from your post text, and you have the option to go back and edit your post after it goes live. Just like in Google+, there is an arrow button to the right of your post that allows you options to edit, delete, acquire embed code and translate.
  • Directly from the homepage, there is an Applet button that you can drag to your browser’s bookmarks bar, which will allow you to post to your So.cl profile from any website you find interesting. Also, similar to other networks, you can @tag people you follow in posts and comments.
  •  In the FAQs, So.cl makes it abundantly clear that all activity is meant to be VERY PUBLIC. There is no illusion of privacy associated with So.cl and you should proceed as such. Whereas this may not be the place to record your deepest, darkest meditations, I can see brands taking full advantage of this soon. So.cl could be to Bing what Google+ is to Google. I have yet to find any info on whether you’re more likely to show up in search results from Bing.com, but So.cl users that are searching for things relative to your business may find you as a resource to answer their questions within the social network.

The social network seems to be very popular with users outside of the U.S. Keep this in mind if you use it, as the time frames when it is going to be most active may be slightly skewed to your own. I think So.cl has potential to garner many more users, as it is already off to a strong start, and seems almost poised in direct opposition with Google+ (you use your Facebook or Windows Live login to set up your account). I’ve talked to some users who have found interesting uses for the network. One guy named Rodrigo Viana actually managed to get help on his homework! He used the network to crowd source tutoring. How’s that for a positive use of social networking? Although it is specifically mentioned that So.cl is not meant to replace other social networks, I have a feeling that there should be a parenthetical addition adding (yet) to that clause.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I discuss another interesting network to look at, and one not to even bother with.

Now go get your social on!

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Could Sociabell be Facebook’s Google+ Killer?

By now you’ve certainly heard about Google’s increasing involvement of Google+ into search.  You may have also heard of the social + search experiment from Microsoft and FUSE Labs called So.cl. Guy Kawasaki dedicates a chapter to social search functionality in Google+  in his book “What the Plus?” (If you haven’t bought this ebook yet, you seriously must. Even if you think you know Google+, Guy knows it better than you. And it’s $3.). Combining the realms of social networking and search is the next evolution in the way we interact online. The most important part of this feature is that you remain engaged with the your social network while searching. Facebook’s search function is severely lacking in this way.

Enter: Sociabell. I found out about Sociabell in one of Social Media Examiner’s This Week In Social Media columns.

Sociabell’s web page highlights its interconnectivity to all things social

Sociabell is a browser add-on for Facebook users who use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. The completely free add-on turns Facebook’s search bar into a social search. When you type a query into the search bar, you will see the standard drop down options that you get from Facebook: people you are friends with, pages you ‘Like’, relevant apps and an option to see more results. What Sociabell does is add another box to the right of Facebook’s standard options and allows you to jump right to other social networks: Twitter,  Craigslist, Google, Yahoo, Bing, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon and Google recommended results (but notice, no Google+). You also have the option to share your search with your friends, which creates a post and allows them to answer your question or recommend a site to find what you’re looking for. When you click on one of the above mentioned social outlets, the results automatically open in another tab, thus allowing you to maintain your presence on Facebook. Although, if you’re like me, you would normally just open another tab to Google something anyway, but allowing you to do it through Facebook’s user interface means you are less likely to navigate away. Sociabell states on its page that the add-on collects no personal data, but it’s not clear to me whether your search through Facebook’s search bar is still being tracked by Facebook. My guess is yes.

This is what Sociabell turns your Facebook search bar into

Sociabell is not currently supported on mobile and the Safari add-on is in the works. Friends only see what you are searching for if you share you search, so you don’t have to worry about Sociabell throwing under the search engine bus. If Google+ is clinging to the social search function as one of their big selling points over Facebook, then this is something that deserves their attention. Facebook should also take notice of Sociabell, since they’re in the “buying up useful things” mode of thinking anyway. The biggest concern that the developers at Sociabell have is Facebook taking their idea and actually finding a way to integrate it into the functionality of Facebook itself. As of right now, this browser add-on is pretty slick, and if I’m Google+, I’ve got my eye on what’s going on here.

Have you heard of Sociabell? Are you using it? Does the idea of being able to search all of your networks from Facebook appeal to you? Chime in below!

Now go get your social on!

Mobile App Review – Path

I use the Nike + GPS app to record my sad attempts at running. It’s nice to have the occasional, “Hey, you didn’t suck as much as last time” motivational shout-outs that it provides at times. Recently, I went to record one of my runs and the app asked me if I wanted to share my run on Path. I saw the below icon, and thought it would be great because, in my post-run haze, I mistakenly thought the icon looked similar to the Pinterest icon. I actually was thinking, if it was associated with Pinterest and would be posting my runs in an album, that would be awesome! It is NOT associated with Pinterest, by the way.

Path not Pinterest

Red and white 'P' does not a Pinterest make...


San Francisco-based 
Path launched in 2010 and, according to its website, the privately held company has a base of about 2 million users. The website goes on to explain that it allows you to keep a personal journal, “or Path”, of your life and should help you authentically express yourself and share your personal life with loved ones Path has a healthy following on Facebook  and on Twitter, as well as over 300 followers on LinkedIn so their online presence and following is pretty well established. It floats dangerously close to Facebook in certain aesthetic aspects. Most notably, Path allows you a “profile picture” and a “cover picture” with the profile picture showing up in a bubble in the lower left corner of the cover picture (example of mine here) on your profile. They may catch flak for that, if they haven’t already.  The feed also resembles Facebook quite a bit, but there isn’t a whole lot of variation available for a feed, I suppose. One area that Path ventures away from Facebook is that is is focused almost exclusively as a mobile interface, rather than on your computer. You can make changes to your profile settings on your Mac or PC, but your feed and your ability to post anything are exclusively on your mobile device. This stems from Path’s focus on being a modern journal for a modern age. It is meant to be with you wherever you go. It has yet to be seen whether a lack of a computer interface will help or hinder Path’s future.My first impression of this app was not a good one. It messed up while registering my account, and reloaded the page, then told me that my email and phone number already existed. I gave up on it until I returned home from my run and saw the email for my registered account. I then decided to give it another go. It got better.

Those facts aside, there are actually some pretty slick features that this app has which make me glad that I moved forward with setting it up.

  1. The creators of Path were smart to allow integration with the other heavy hitters, rather than simply try to compete with them. All of your posts are shareable on Facebook, twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare. This integration is likely a key success factor for Path.
  2. You have the option to share music that you are currently listening to. When you click the button to do this, Path automatically checks your music player to see what your ARE listening to. It then makes suggestions to post so that you don’t have to search for your song and artist. Occasionally though, if you have a more obscure artist or album, Path can’t find it. I’d be interested to know where they pull their music database from. It does an admirable job for most popular artists, however.
  3. As with most social sites, you can post who are you with (once you’ve found friends on Path), where you are (if you have location services turned on), upload pictures and post comments. You won’t feel too lost using Path if you are already using some of the other major social sites.
  4. Another function, albeit a little bit of a strange one, is the ability to tell friends when you’ve gone to bed and when you wake up. I’m not really sure that I see the use of this outside of people knowing that they can’t bother you because you’ve already gone to bed. I’d love to find out if there is a specific point that Path creators were trying to achieve by adding this feature. If there were a first thing to go in a major overhaul, it would likely be this feature.
  5. All of the above options come from a really cool little pop-up menu in the bottom left corner of your screen. It’s a pretty slick, smooth interface with multiple buttons popping up and going back to being hidden with the touch of a little + or x.
  6. As you scroll through the timeline of events, a little clock pops up to show you the time of each item’s posting. It moves along as you scroll and the little hands furiously move to the next “time stamp” of each post. It’s a fun little feature, actually.
  7. Path offers emoticons that you can add to posts of your own or those of friends. You can add a smiley, frown, wink and surprised face. There is also a little heart option. I would liken this to the ‘Like’ button on Facebook.
  8. The way that Path integrates with Nike + GPS is probably one of the most solid functions Path brings to the table for me, and likely where it can gain an even stronger footing. Once you finish a run while using the Nike app, you can post to your social networks via sharing options within the app (Facebook, Twitter and Path). On Path, a map of your run (example of my own here) gets posted showing your route, your mileage and length of time right on the map! I could see this being a good way to get a bunch of your workout/health nut friends together in one social space and be able to share, cheer each other on, and keep motivated while avoiding the inevitable groans from your Facebook friends (if you post your workouts/runs on your Facebook Timeline.) If you see that a friend is on a run, you can actually click their Path and send them a cheer. And who doesn’t like a little encouragement every now and then?

Overall, I think Path has potential for stay power if they keep the momentum up, and I will likely continue to use it just to see where it may go. I’m interested to see in what ways it “learns” from my activity, which the website claims it will do. I am likely going to have to invite friends so that it becomes fun because, out of my numerous email and Facebook contacts, I’ve found ONE person using Path. I think adding a small bio section and the ability to search other users by interest or location would be greatly helpful in allowing users to add worthwhile connections rather than random. I would love to find other people around Austin using Path.

Being still pretty much in its youth, time will tell whether this becomes the next big thing in social, or if Path simply falls by the wayside as so many do. I can’t say I’m not rooting for it to stay around a little longer though. 

Have you already heard of Path? Are you using it? If not, do you think having a place to share your exercise goals is worth another social network? Chime in!

Now go get your social on!