Bytes 6/27/2012

Chart a Course to PATH

As with most things, the next generation of the current “next big thing”—social networking—has made the leap from desktop to smartphone. As with other forms of the medium, Path (available for iPhones and Androids), tracks where you go, who you are going with, and what music is providing the soundtrack. In keeping with this age of “personal reporting,” the app includes a feature that chronicles your sleep and waking habits (can anyone say “ego?”). The retooled Path will even send shout-outs when you deviate from your normal patterns.

Let me take a moment to tell you about one of the things I like most about Path—and, conversely, explain something that I find annoying about a lot of other social media. “Dunbar’s Number” is a formulation devised by the British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, and measures what he called the “cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships.” This number of people—roughly 150—represents the approximate total amount of personal information that your brain can store about your family, friends, and associates. (Needless to say, that 150 far surpasses the 5,000 “friends” that Facebook permits you; just imagine how your brain feels.)

Like your brain, the Path app sets limits on the number of individuals with whom you can share information, by restricting accounts to—you guessed it, 150 contacts, enabling you to share your most personal info with—you guessed it, your actual family and/or closest friends. This encourages users to share their status only with family and very close friends. Talk about an exclusive club. PATH O’Logic: FREE for iPhone, iPod Touch and Google Play Android.

Signeo SOUL Headphones by Ludacris SL150

Headphones have become for the Twenty-Tens what basketball shoes were for the last 20 years of the 20th Century: prime ground for celebrity endorsements. From the Dr. Dre headphone collection, to the AKG Q460 (part of the electronics firm’s Quincy Jones line), there’s plenty of noise about sound from the ranks of the glitterati. The Signeo SOUL by Ludacris SL150 has lots of bass—what did you expect?—but much more to back it up. Vocals and horns sound clean, but the distortion on the low end reminded me of the final horrendous moments of Lenny Kravitz’s “American Woman” cover. There’s excellent sound isolation, and the eggshell white color will make the cans easy to find in the dark, but the downside—including an overpowering bass that’s about as subtle as a South Central drive-by shooting—outweighs all. DUBSTEP ON DIS: $199.


Annus: [an-nuse] noun. The measurement for the new standard year, based upon the total number of seconds—31,556,925.445—that comprised the year 2000 (Y2K, anyone?). Although devised as a more accurate calculus, meant to assist chemists and geologists in measuring radioisotopes, astronomers hate it, citing a preference for the ancient Julian Calendar approximation of 365.25 days. (This sounds like the setup for “Final Destination XII: Geek/Nerd Apocalypse.”)

Cherry Blossoming: [cher-ee, bloss-uhm-ing] verb. “Liking” Facebook pages, and following Twitter feeds for pay. It takes its name from the Japanese slang term for fans—sakura, or cherry blossoms.