3 Comments

Path.

A while back I talked about a new iPhone app called Path. It’s actually version 2 of Path, called, appropriately, Path 2, (wow that’s a lot of commas; I apologize to anyone that’s allergic) and it is a pretty nifty app in that it creates something like a hybrid twitter or Facebook stream/Foursquare check-in notification/Instagram photo sharing space for your closest friends. The idea behind Path2 is that you only connect with your closest friends and family so you can be a little more intimate with the details of your life. After all, there are some things in life that you shouldn’t share on Twitter. For example, I’ve seen people share the time, place and method of their latest sexual escapade on an unlocked Twitter stream and to me that’s just freaky. I know that I live my life pretty openly on the Internet but there is no way that I would ever proclaim to a random group of millions of people the specifics of how, when or where I just had sex. There a couple of reasons that might lead to that sort of proclamation, for example, if you want to share the boundaries of your creativity or if you want to advertise your abilities so you can get a higher rate.

I think I digressed.

Anyway, Path2’s design through it’s gorgeous app was to urge you to be a little more personable with a select group of people with your internet life. I used it and liked it for that reason; I only followed a half dozen or so people on there and it was kind of nifty. If I want to go for the full-on broadcast of details, I could by just telling the app to push my details to Twitter or whatever.

Now, the Path2 app and service is free. This always leads me to taking pause, because you can hardly ever get something for nothing so there has to be some sort of catch. Well, I haven’t figured out the mechanics to figure out how the folks at Path2 were making money. Actually, I didn’t invest enough time to figure out how, but when there’s little to no money involved there’s usually data-mining so that it can be sold to an advertiser. It’s kind of like my feelings about Google; as a Google user you’re not the customer, you are the product and the applications are the factory that build the product base. I figure I was just another Path2 product.

Now here’s where it gets wonky and it makes me angry. I read on Daring Fireball this morning that Path2 has been uploading the ENTIRE ADDRESSBOOK on your Android or iPhone to it’s servers, WITHOUT your consent. That’s right, data that can be linked back to you is being stored on Path2’s servers and nowhere did you agree to that sort of thing.

That’s bad.

Now, I know that Google and Facebook and a ton of other services and applications do the same thing, but they let you know that in the very, very small print of their Terms of Service. I completely abide by the “don’t put it on the network if you wouldn’t want it on the front page of the New York Times” rule I learned back in 1988 when I worked for DEC. When I put my address book on iCloud, I know that I am doing it and I know where my address book is being stored and I know the possible ramifications from doing so.

It is not cool when a company does it without my permission. Not only does that damage the reputation of the company in eyes, but it damages trust in Cloud computing in general. And that’s not good. Because we wouldn’t be able to do the millions of nifty things we do with our smartwhatevers if we didn’t have the power of cloud computing behind them.

Path2 was deleted off of my iDevices this morning at approximately 5:40 a.m. They’ve lost my trust. And getting back my trust would be damned near impossible unless they completely opened up the source code for their app so that the world can see what they’re doing.

In a world where honor and integrity seem to be less important, it’s unfortunate when elements of today’s technological niceties seem to reinforce that fact.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

3 Comments

  1. I was rather upset last night when I read that as well. I sent Path support an email to delete both my data, and my account. Of course, this puts all the trust on them to actually do so.

    1. So since I have written this blog entry, Path has announced that they deleted all of that data they retrieved without permission. I’ve decided to give them another chance because I’m feeling like a nice guy.

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