March 12, 2011

Path Planning Photo Imports for Historical Memories

On Friday, I participated in a panel at SXSW discussing the rising world of mobile photo sharing, specifically addressing two approaches - mass broadcast of photos through sites like Twitter and Facebook, or limited sharing, such as that espoused by Path, who famously has limited sharing to your self-selected network of 50 people. During our panel, Danny Trinh of Path let slip that the company is planning a feature that will let you tap existing photo sharing accounts you may have, and import them into your Path, making the service a better and more full account of your event history.

In our discussion, Trinh doubled down on the service's limited sharing approach, advocating the select network more accurately reflected human nature, best exemplified by the famous Dunbar's Number (150) which shows humans typically interact with a smaller number of close friends, rather than blasting out to thousands of loosely connected followers. For Path, the magic number isn't even 150 or 50, but 15 - fifteen amazing connections upon whom you could call to ask for help if you were in the hospital, for example, he said.

Trinh spoke to how sharing photos with a select group of people sets up memories - and how scrolling back even a few weeks of photos brings back the feelings of the event where the photos were taken. With this in mind, combined with the service's relative newness, he said the company was investigating the option to let users import photos from external photo sharing sites (assuming Flickr and Facebook are top of the list) to extend these memories within Path itself, even if Path was not the original source. The idea could possibly be like MemoLane, where one could scroll right to left to go back in time and see one's prior history.

During the panel, Trinh also spoke to the company's design philosophy, saying features often would make it to the very edge of code release only to be pulled at the last minute because they weren't quite perfect. He also promised Android support was planned in the near future, and speculated the company might eventually move into including video as part of one's Path. But if you're expecting Path to open up outright, don't hold your breath.

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