Dr. Zuckerberg or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Timeline

Your Life on The Facebook Timeline - The Anti-Social MediaBecause I’m a Facebook developer (I know, the irony), I’ve had access to the timeline for a few days now, or basically before everyone read posts like this and enabled it for themselves.

And I hate to admit it, but I really enjoy it. I’ve already pimped mine out with my cat.

The basis of the social network is two things. the user profile, and messages between those users. That’s something simple to make, and we’ve seen it evolve into an endless stream of news feeds and updates across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, MySpace, and any other social network.

But people don’t live their lives as a never ending stream of messages in a news feed. We don’t think of our lives as each individual observation and photo. That’s why the timeline works.

Some of it is weird for sure. Previously wall posts from friends show up all over the timeline. This could be cool if they were posts like, “You’re getting married!?!” but they’re not. They’re much more trivial. In my case, they include a whole series from a guy who was desperately trying to get into my pants. While I know some people will have posts that are awesome, my experience has mostly been a rehashing of every crazy message from college, including what may be my very first wall post which says “SHOW ME YOUR BOOBS.”

We were classy in 2004 when we thought none of this would be public and we’d probably never use Facebook after college.

But some of it is touching in a funny and weird sort of way. Another messages from an ex in 2005 tells me “You’re such a Facebook whore.”

Damn he knew me well.

If there are downsides to the timeline, it’s not with the timeline itself, but rather how we use Facebook and the timeline. The awkward wall posts and statuses that you thought were dead and buried come back to haunt you, prominently posted and arranged. They’re easy enough to hide, but it can be pretty awkward the first time on your timeline. Also, personal branding will be taken to an even crazier extreme. Now you can brand your birth, your wedding, when you overcame cancer.  But I’ll get into that at a later time.

For now, maybe, just maybe, one part of social networking just got a bit better with a profile that isn’t just lists of interests, but rather reflects who a person is and how the events of their life shaped who they are. And you can finally add that you got a pet. So no more crazy pet profiles (though Miss Chibi is keeping hers).

What do you think of the timeline? Is it genius? Evil genius? Or just another crappy web profile? And are you keeping your pet’s profile? Leave a comment and let me know what you think of all these changes.


18 Responses to Dr. Zuckerberg or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Timeline

  1. Rogier Noort September 27, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    I love the idea of the timeline. I have a Profilactic.com lifestream (profilactic.com/mashup/Rogier) but it is less structured. The only downside to the Facebook timeline is.., well.., Facebook.., or rather.., the closed system.
    I would love to have a timeline like that including all (or more) of my social activities.., then it would be really sweet…
    We’ll see what the future holds…

    • Jay September 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

      I think as we see more apps tie into Facebook and make use of the Open Graph, we’ll see more and more on the timeline. The trick will be keeping it uncluttered as we share more stuff.

    • Rab September 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      We have this, it’s called Tumblr. 🙂

  2. Dori September 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    I absolutely love it. The new timeline completely plays into my obsession with nostalgia, and with myself.

    • Jay September 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      Narcissism wins!

    • Claire Wagner September 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

      Try getting old like me, then the Timeline will not be so attractive. You get less interested in the past as there gets to be more and more of it. I’m not joking-it’s the truth. So, no Timeline for me.

      • Jay September 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

        For now at least. Facebook will eventually force it down all 800 million throats.

  3. Morgan September 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    When I saw the timeline, I really didn’t think much of it. It was just another change to Facebook. I haven’t really done anything with it yet, and honestly probably won’t. Not because I hate it, but because it’s just not even on my radar right now. If I were to pay attention to it….I don’t think I’d ever leave Facebook. And THAT scares me.

    • Jay September 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      Yeah, I think Facebook profiles are about to become even more addictive. Just imagine who much you can now find out about someone!

    • Anthony_Rodriguez September 28, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      I’m totally with you on this. I don’t want to get sucked into the Timeline black hole. I’m afraid if I activate it, this is exactly what will happen.

      But Jay may be convincing me that I need to check this out before Facebook makes me.

  4. Camilo Olea September 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Nice, another “new feature” copied from previously successful other social media networks. You know, just like they copied Twitter with the timeline.

    Anyway, I’ll rant more when I actually try it.

    By the way, I sent a friend request to Miss Chibi Dolan. She looks evil in her profile pic.

    • Jay September 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      She is a total sweetheart. That’s just her emo cat photo.

  5. Liz Hover September 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    I love the timeline. But when I watched Mark give his presentation at F8 I wasn’t so sure. Once I’d enabled it, I totally got it. I immediately added a photo of me as a child and scoured my thousands of dog photos for the cover image. I find the timeline oddly fascinating.

    I’m usually someone who grumbles about the changes made by Facebook. The recent addition of ‘top stories’ isn’t a change I like because my news is sort of cluttered now and I feel like I’m missing out on stuff.

    I think Facebook really got it right with the timeline though. Yesterday I posted on Facebook that I loved it and someone replied saying ‘I was feeling so alone. I think I’m the only person on earth that loves it when FB changes stuff.’

    • Jay September 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

      There’s just no way to please 800 million people. It can’t be done. Some people never want to change.

      If anything though, what I love about the timeline is how much it humanizes everyone. You’re no longer just a list of interests and messages. You’re shaped by events, people, and places.

  6. Jonathan September 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    I like it, but I yet again can’t find the links I want (e.g. my notes) when I try to navigate anywhere from my profile.

    Also, thanks to the timeline feature I can tell I’ve been on Facebook a few months longer than you. Do I get some form of cred for that?

  7. Grace September 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    I changed my profile already and I like the new Facebook 😀

  8. Raymond @ IT Reporter September 28, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Ah, Google+ will soon come up with Alternate Timelines and options to rewrite your personal history. Much cooler. 😉

  9. Effie September 30, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    First, awesome Dr. Strangelove reference. Secondly, I am assuming this timeline quagmire will not affect Facebook pages (for businesses)?