Path: A Twenty-First Century Geotagging Journal

Have you ever wanted to keep a digital history of where you’ve been? I found a solution to this a few months ago with Path, an interesting new application for the iPhone and Android introduced to me by my new colleague Victoria Szabo (@vszabo). Path is a free application that allows you to easily “tag” yourself, pictures, and videos at locations around the world.

The most useful thing about Path is its geotagging capabilities. When you create a “moment” on the app (which can be a photograph, thought, video, song, etc.), you have the option of pinning your thought to your geographical location. This means that even if you’re not sure where you are, with the app you’re always going to be able to find your way back to the spot where you had your moment. You can also give names to places, which you can make public. Fun names I’ve seen on Path include “The Little Yellow House” and “The Yes Cube.”

Path is also very social. You can choose to follow your friends’ paths and comment on their moments. Path is also easily exported to Facebook or Twitter. Alternatively, you can choose to make your posts private, which means that only you can view them.

Good Things About Path: The user interface is smooth and sleek, and the camera component offers filters (some are paid) to enhance your photographs. It’s also easy to use, and loads very quickly on my smartphone (iPhone 4s). The interface is a lot more engaging than mobile versions of Facebook or Twitter. I also like that it’s easy to document where I’ve been, and find my way back to any location I’ve tagged, even if I don’t know where I am.

Things That Could Be Improved: You can’t create filters for posts, meaning that all events are either “public” to your friends, or completely private. Path should allow for the creation of particular groups the way Google Plus and Facebook now do. This limits its possible application in the classroom (see Jason B. Jones’s (@jbj) explanation of the Creepy Treehouse problem). Also, you can only share your path with people who have Androids or iPhones. You can share individual moments publicly on the web, but not your entire path. This limits its application for family use, especially for relatives who are less technologically inclined.

In summary, Path is a lot of fun to use, but until it extends more of its privacy capabilities, is more of a personal journal app than something that could be used for work or in classes. That’s a pity, because the easy geotagging capabilities and slick user interface would have made it an ideal application for some experiments in the classroom.

Do You Use Any Geotagging Apps?

** Find out more about Path and its capabilities here.

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