Path introduces social search that's more intuitive than Facebook

Path, a small social network designed to be more intimate than Facebook, introduced a new search feature on Thursday that lets you look back on moments you've shared with friends. You can search these moments by person, location, date, or even emotion.
Path debuted a new search feature that lets you look back on moments you've shared with friends.

Want to know what your friends are doing right now? Facebook is a great place for that. You’ve got a constant stream of photos, messages, and updates that refreshes automatically and can be customized to show only those updates you’re interested in.

But if you’ve ever wanted to reminisce about parties, dinners, or other fun times you shared with friends, Facebook can come up short. It doesn’t really give you a way to look back on events you’ve attended with your friends -- short of just skimming down rows of pictures or scrolling backward through your Timeline.

Path, a small social-networking startup launched in late 2010, is taking a different approach. On Thursday, the company launched a new search interface that lets you get a little nostalgic by calling up different moments in your life.

Path’s whole network is built around moments -- a place you visited, a song you listened to, a photo you took with a friend. Those moments are then tagged not only with people, dates, and locations, but also with emotions. So you could search for surprising moments, and be rewarded with a photo album of, say, an unexpected birthday party.

Path bills itself as a “smart journal” that allows you to share your life with a close circle of friends. By design, it’s more modest and more private than open networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram: the company says “You should always be in control of your information and experience,” and each person’s network is limited to 150 contacts to encourage you to share with people you really know well. Path has about 5 million registered users, which is a vanishingly small fraction of what Facebook has -- but that’s the whole point.

Path’s new search also includes location, date, holidays, and seasons, among other parameters. You could, say, look back on moments that happened a year ago, or holidays that you shared with a certain group of friends. There’s also a nifty location feature that lets you instantly see moments that took place for you or your friends wherever you happen to be. (This might seem like a strange feature at first, but think about the next time you take a trip abroad: it’d be pretty useful to be able to guide yourself around a foreign city based on what your friends did when they were there.)

Path may never achieve the popularity of Facebook or Twitter -- but for those users looking to share details about their lives with close friends, and to be able to digitally reminisce about moments spent together, the small social network might be a refreshing change. 

For more tech news, follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffwardbailey.

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