I just enabled Timeline on my Facebook profile. (How did I get the invite? My web-fu paid off once again, and because I care about my readers, I’ll share my trick with you: click here. NOTE: It took longer for the invite to come on my profile than described in the linked article. Days longer. Just be patient. Also note that this just gets you in on the developer release. The general public won’t be able to view your timeline until it’s available to everyone. For now, just other developers can see it. But if you become a developer by following that link, then you can view other people’s timelines. Get it?)
So what is Timeline? It’s Facebook’s new approach to personal profiles, aiming to present the whole of a person, from birth on. It presents all your activity in an easily accessed chronological format, ranging from events to status updates to pictures to . . . everything else. It lets you retroactively put in events–I tried entering where I moved when, and it all worked flawlessly. You can associate pictures with events, too.
Some people have said this is all too creepy and invasive, and I suppose I can see that–although it doesn’t bother me. Only you have access to all the information on your timeline, and you can hide anything you want hidden. Actually, it’s a good reminder that what you put on Facebook stops really being yours the moment you put it there. Facebook keeps a copy, and it’s got a long memory. The moral of the story (in my opinion) isn’t to start getting torches and pitchforks and coming after Facebook–it’s to be careful about what you post there in the first place.
So what do I think of Timeline?
I love it. I could easily see myself spending a lot of time putting up pictures and labeling them with the approximate date and place. It takes the concept of a family photo album and brings it to the modern day. When I think about how kids born post-Facebook will basically have all this information already available to them–how they can create it as they live their lives . . . that’s sort of mind blowing.
Also mind blowing? The fact that I just joined Facebook on July 30, 2007. In just a little over 4 years, Facebook has ingrained itself into popular culture and consciousness to the point that it feels like it’s always been here.
I really like the ability to see all my status updates and postings and friend adds that I’ve ever done. It’s easy as all get out to see what I was doing three years ago today. Very interesting (and this feature is private–it’s only available to each user on an individual basis–people can’t go to my Facebook page and use it. Only I can. Supposedly.)
In the end, it’s a great way to organize what was up to now just a running list of events in a person’s life. I think it’s exciting, and I hope it gets more widely adopted. I’d love to be able to browse through my friends’ lives more easily–or at least through the events they don’t mind me browsing.
What say you?