Friday, December 16, 2011

Timeline - Facebook's Newest Tactic

Photo: Facebook's stock photo of the new Timeline feature.

Yesterday Facebook launched it's new "Timeline" feature to the public. Users can either get the feature now, or wait until there is an advertisement on his or her page for the new service. The Facebook user has 7 days to get used to Timeline, and to hide anything that was posted in their past years that they don't want friends to see - a smart move for those of us who have had a shady or embarrassing story or two. This new update from Mark Zuckerberg and crew shows the Facebook profile in a tabular format - one where a person's favorite highlights from earlier years are just a click away, the template is more customizable by the use of covers, and the whole idea is (intelligently) an appeal to nostalgia.

At first, I was a little hesitant about this update. To me, it seemed a little self centered. Who really cared what happened two or more years ago on Facebook? Is it that important for us to tell our life stories to the people in our friends? I know it's going to be a field day for those trying to leave behind their legacy in this technology era. Yet after more research into the Timeline feature, I found both pros and cons.

First I'll start with the good news. The layout of this new feature is excellent. I love how everything seems more organized, and almost more of a blog-like setting. You can easily go back and find stories that you want to read again on your own page or someone else's (which is good for the businesses checking out a new employee's page), and more posts are shared on your main page. I also love the cover picture, which gives each page a different feel.

Now for the negatives. I think Timeline gives user a perfect format for creeping (which is to go back on your friends' pages and click around until you find something interesting). Used to with Facebook's older formats, this was a lot more difficult as you had to continually click the "Older Posts" tab until you got back to the month or year you wanted. Now, all you have to do is go to the right hand timeline and click the year and the month that you want. Although this is great for finding out quick information on a ne'er do well boyfriend or employee, it is also a way to find out old information that is in the past. Information that some users will use to cause more Facebook arguments among their friends. It also, like I mentioned earlier, seems like an another tool in making everyone more self-centered. First your profile picture, your school information, your hometown, your map of places you been, and your timeline are all the first thing you see. This is going to make some people even more obsessed with themselves (a personality flaw that Facebook has catered to for years) and keeping their information up to date. It is just going to be another key to breaking down the "let's put others first" attitude that I'd like to see more of in human nature.

With promising replacements like Google+ on the horizon, I believe Timeline is a strong move by the Facebook developers in making sure Facebook stays the strongest social networking site. Despite my list of pros and cons, there is no doubt that Timeline will be a huge favorite among users, and I can see it lasting and growing many years into the future - hopefully without too many arguments or too much selfishness among its users.

Photo Credit: The Guardian