‘Timeline’ is the glue which Zuckerberg hopes will finally bind together its monumental house of cards. Timeline tracks your entire life. It won’t go live for a week, but there is an easy hack.
Timeline abandons the concept of a rolling set of updates that are quickly lost into the ether by assigning them to a timeline which stretches back to your declared date of birth. This can be filled in with ‘Life Events’, namely everything from work (add a job, graduation) and love (got engaged/married, add a child/pet, lost a loved one) to property (moved, bought a home, add a roommate or vehicle), health (broke a bone, had surgery, overcame an illness) and achievements (learned a language, got a license, travelled, achieved an award) and more. In one go Facebook just gave users the tools to paint a truly vivid picture of their lives. Once complete who would want to delete that?
The genius here is Facebook’s recently simplified privacy settings mean Timeline can be a completely private endeavour should you desire and work solely as the world’s most powerful profile building tool. In fact is ‘profile’ even the right word anymore? Given Facebook can memorialize users when they pass it could fast become the definitive record for the human race.
But let’s not get too carried away. There are plenty of caveats. Facebook users are notoriously reactionary, greeting most minor updates with a torrent of abuse. The sweeping consequences of F8 extend way beyond layout alterations – and even these are extreme. There is a chance Zuckerberg is pushing too far too soon and features such as Timeline may well scare away the fickle users it is attempting to retain.
Similarly, for all the hype, the media integration is currently a half measure. Facebook offers no true streaming functionality rather it communicates with externally installed clients. If you don’t have Spotify on your desktop then all its new Facebook functionality won’t work. If more companies hop on this bandwagon it will become impractical to keep installing every possible client. At some stage Facebook may opt to buy a service such as Spotify and enter the area itself. The two have long been linked and Facebook certainly has the capital, but it would put the company in the firing line.
Ultimately however we can’t help but be impressed. The bigger a company gets the less radical it tends to become, but here Facebook is defiantly breaking that habit, daring to alienate users and fighting to become something more substantial. It is pure innovation and while we have reservations and see limitations we champion progress and we think this is it…