By John D. Sutter
It's proven by research, Dave Morin says. You can't really, truly be friends with more than 50 people at once; and your brain can't manage a social network that's larger than 150 people,according to Robin Dunbar at Oxford.
Now think about the thousands of online relationships people tend to manage across sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. ("Who is that person writing on my wall?") The average Facebook user has 130 friends.
This digi-friend overload is why Morin, a former Facebook employee, created an app-based social network called Path, which limits its users to 50 friends or fewer. The goal is to promote intimate and memorable sharing, he said.
"Path is really focused on close friends and family, and developing deeper and more intimate relationships between the 50 closest people in your life," Morin said in an interview at a recent tech conference in Austin, Texas.
Path's setup is familiar. It is basically a photo-sharing app. Look at your Path news feed on your phone and you'll see photos from locations where family and friends have been recently, and short blips of text about what they were doing.
The app this week launched a new feature called "stacks," which puts all this information into bundles based on where a person has been and who they've seen.
The nature of the conversation that happens on Path is different from that of the Goliath social networks, Morin said. This is the kind of app where you can complain about being sick or post about struggles at work, Morin said. You can really truly be yourself, unlike on the larger networks, where users may feel self-conscious about being who they really are, he said.
"You're willing to share emotions with the people closest to you," he said.
If you've used the app, let us know what you think in the comments. Path has "hundreds of thousands" of users -- not hundreds of millions, as is the case with Facebook. But it has gotten lots of buzz in tech circles.