1) Its DNA is mobile
The first generation of mobile design merely ported our understanding of the web onto a smaller screen. We’re now firmly in the second generation — mobile first, and in some cases, mobile only. Designed from the phone to the web as opposed to the reverse. Perhaps this is why several people have commented that P2 feels like a native iOS application designed by Apple.
2) Should I assume everything is private?
The 150 friend limit. The warmth of the UX. The nature of the data you are asked to share was previously reserved for the omnipotent eyes of Santa Claus (“He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake”). All of this suggests a certain degree of privacy but for me there are some design challenges which threaten this cozy nook:
a. Asymmetical social circles
It’s jarring to see friends of friends commenting on our mutual friend’s posts because it shatters the notion of P2 being a small shared space. It has little to do with actual privacy (I know my friends’ friends can’t see my feed) but rather my perception of who is inhabiting the space with me. In the P2 case, FOF comments are noise to me. If I wanted to hear from those folks I would have friended them myself. Perhaps P2 will one day hide comments from non-friends behind a “see all” preference (i realize this solution would create awkward missing responses in some views).
b. Are my friends the privacy weak link?
I’ve tried to be more personal in my posting to P2, not just recreate the photos/status updates/etc that I would share in other services. I’m doing this under the assumption that my friends will treat P2 as a private space – ie not mention it to others. When all info is public you can assume anyone can see it. On P2, you can see the avatars of who else has viewed a post but I don’t expect my friends to remember who I’ve chosen to share with on P2. So instead the default needs to be: comment on P2 posts w/in P2 but don’t mention them anywhere else. In some respects I’m almost treating P2 more like a persistent GroupMe than a mini-Facebook. Of course this is the promise of G+ and the flexibility of circles.
3) What should I share via P2 as opposed to elsewhere?
So many choices – status, photos, videos, location, music, biorhythms. And public/private toggles via pushing to FB, 4SQ, Twitter, etc. When I want to publish publicly (which is 95% of my sharing), I just go to Twitter and G+ and assume my P2 friends will see the info there. On P2 I’ve tended to post more specific details about my location/evening plans (“hey i’ll be at and can get a few people in if you want”) or personal details about my life. I guess P2 could become my central CMS, where I manage both public and private posts across networks, but that gets confusing. People like single purpose apps. It’s one of the G+ circles design challenges – not just making circles but then adding and removing based on the information you’re posting.
4) And thus Pathgatory!!!!
Given all this confusion I’m coining a new word: Pathgatory (Purgatory
for Path friend requests – you just don’t respond because you’re not yet sure how you’ll use P2). Right now I’m sharing with a pretty tight group of ~15 people who meet two criteria:
a. Do I know about your fears & failures?
I love hearing about your new product release, wedding, IPO, sports car, CNBC interview, etc. But I can already do that everywhere else on the web. One filter I’ve used on P2 is “do I know about their fears and failures, not just successes.” I ache for P2 to be a digital version of the late night heart-to-heart over whiskey, not just another place to +1 your backstage pics with Lady Gaga.
b. Are you friends with my friends?
As said earlier, I find P2 most pleasing when it’s a friend network with strong ties. Thus I’ve been more likely to accept a friend request from someone who is already friends with my existing Path graph. Maybe it’s also because I’m likely to keep encountering this person commenting/viewing my friend’s posts anyway so they become more familiar (a tweak on 2a).
Josh Constine at TechCrunch feels similarly about the need to limit friending. He writes:To retain its value, Path must somehow keep users from reducing its distinction from existing social networks. Its on-boarding process may need to help by suggesting you only add your closest friends based on those you wall post or @reply with. It will hurt its growth, and finding the proper language will be tricky, but it is crucial that Path make it clear to users that they shouldn’t add just anyone.
5) Intimacy vs Virality: Those Damn “Seen” #s