About a year ago I went through a phase of really resenting Facebook. I had issues with sharing everything online and having next to no control over who what was on my page. This over sharing of information which was rapidly becoming part of social culture was surely part of some total control operation by the CIA, and I wanted out. But of course, I couldn’t delete my Facebook – let’s be honest, I’m as addicted to it as anyone else. Instead, I invested one afternoon in deleting every single thing off my wall, right back to ‘Fritha Hookway joined Facebook’ and I managed to maintain this clean wall for a good 12 months – ha! Take that Zuckerberg, whadya know about me now?!
Well, as it turns out, everything.
Yesterday, I loaded the new Facebook, that is currently only available to developers, onto my profile. I guess I’m not altogether suprised that every single thing I’ve ever done on Facebook is actually still kept on cyber file somewhere. But with the new Timeline, it has never been more clear that Big Brother is watching and he wants you to share like you’ve never shared before.
My initial thoughts on the new Facebook Timeline are suprisingly positive. I actually really like it. Aesthetically, there are ghosts of early My Space and the ‘cover’ feature, which lets you create a banner across the top of your page, takes me back a little to skins in Bebo. But the jist of the new layout is aimed more at documenting and tracking everything you do in life back through your Facebook profile. The time line on the right that starts at BORN right through to NOW is a pretty clear indication of this. Curious as to why 1992 was appearing as a tab on this time line I clicked and saw that that was the year my sister (listed on my page) was born. An eery reminder of the true spider web of information that Facebook is.
Scrolling through my personal timeline I was able to see when I made friends with everyone. 2009 not such a great year on the social front – turns out I made 16 new friends. 2010 however, I made 195 – that’s pretty much a friend every second day! Admittedly, this isn’t really a new feature, the older model still houses this information on your wall. However, the layout of Timeline means your page now has a central line and these new friends, wall posts, likes, check ins etc which is then broken down into years and months and designed to shoot off in speech bubble style blocks on either side of the timeline, which makes the information more visually digestible.
Friends lists, photo albums, check ins and likes now sit in smaller thumbnails above the timeline. The albums are just as easy to navigate and comment on once you click through to them. Whereas with the older model where we are used to seeing several images of a person’s photos, there now seems to be less emphasis put on this album aspect.
My favourite feature on the new layout without a doubt is the status section. At the top of the profile timeline is your area for updating your status. New to this however is the suggestions. I’m not entirely sure how much Facebook expects a normal human to achieve in a day but the option of “Bought a home” “Got Married” and “Learned a Language” are all there for the taking – as if any of those things are going to happen more than once in the majority of people’s lives! Best of all though is the “Broke a Bone” at the top of the daily activities section. Clicking on this, you are asked to indicate what bone, where, when, location, who you were with and a story or image if available. It won’t be too long before all ACC has to do is ask for your Facebook url to get your accident claims information.
I’m yet to experiment properly with the full extent of social apps on Timeline. But I would say this is the area that Facebook has really focused on creating as a total life sharing experience. Hosted by apps, Facebook users will be able to share what movies they are watching, songs they are listening to, runs they have tracked etc all through the timeline on their profile and all in real time. This integration of applications so heavily into your profile takes information sharing to the next level; I’m still on the fence about whether I think this is a good, bad or neutral feature.
Considering the flak Facebook normally cops for about a week or so when it makes changes, I think this reformatting will actually be really welcomed. The navigation is simple and the thought process behind the timeline is considered. All the same information and sharing capabilities are still there and because it is such a visual change to what we are used to on Facebook, there is a novelty to be enjoyed with getting used to the new Timeline and the integration of apps to share more with your friends.
That being said, this new change has firmly cemented for me the CIA is absolutely on the case and the notion of privacy is officially past tense. At least this time there’s a bit of fun to be had breaking virtual bones and pretending we learned languages along the way.