The social space Timeline continuum: Facebook’s newest profile update

Timelines for all Facebook users will roll out beginning next week. Pictured above is a look at the cover photo for a user's profile. The cover photo stretches horizontally atop a profile page.

Have you ever wanted to relive a moment in your life over and over again?

Perhaps it was a moment when you attended the championship-clinching game of your favorite team?

Or a moment in your prime when you felt indestructible, impenetrable — like Superman or Wonder Woman?

We’ve all, most likely, have wished for a chance to return to a time when maybe life wasn’t all that difficult or relive that first kiss or the birth of a child.

Sure, there are photo albums and home videos that can bring you back to that special place again, but with the growing realm of social networking, that all now can be rolled into one with Facebook’s latest profile update called Timelines.

Announced by Facebook on Thursday, Timelines is now available nearly everywhere in the world. Timelines has been in the beta process before its public release, so for those who signed up for the beta version, this feature is not news to you. For others, you can update your profile now, but come the end of this month, we all will have the new template for our profiles.

So what is Timelines?

Basically, it is a profile update for users that chronologically archives a person’s life.

And in my opinion, it does order my life quite well so far. There’s not much difficulty in retracing my steps to that one concert I attended in college, to when I started dating my current girlfriend, to my birth (you have to add your birth date to record your birth of course).

Instead of thumbing through pages of a photo album for the purposes of reminiscing, like my parents and grandparents did with me, I can now log on to Facebook, click my profile and my archived life is available.

To describe it simply, Timelines is like an online time capsule, or if I want to go girly with the analogy, it’s an online scrapbook.

The first Timelines option you most likely will notice is the cover photo. This is where your creative juices can flow, especially if you are a Photoshop whiz. This display horizontally covers your profile with a standard profile photo layered on top.

There also is an option called “Life Events” in which you select different stock categories and archive a moment in your life that you want detailed.

For example, if you choose the path of weight loss, you can have a starting date, take a picture of yourself at your starting weight, then daily, weekly, monthly or yearly update your progress, adding photos along the way.

Facebook is a casual social network with nearly 800+ million users, but Timelines has options for being used in a professional light. But it also has potential dark spots that could provide problems, so here are a few “Likes” and “Dislikes” I have regarding the newest way to “travel” back in time.

“Likes”

  • Option for personal branding: In time, after all of the complaints are filed away in one’s status, Timelines could be used for making oneself more (or less) visible. The cover photo allows for creative design, and the archiving ability allows a user to continuously update crowning moments or achievements in one’s life, i.e., new job, promotions, awards, etc.
  • Online Time Capsule: I touched on this already, but I like that I have a way to view my life with virtually one click (of course I have to add content, but entering milestones, or failures even, are simple). Assuming Facebook is around in 15-20 years, I admire the idea of sharing my life with my children, or grandchildren, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, using a social medium rather than a photo album (and I didn’t have to purchase the album or print the pictures).
  • Social apps: Apps are on our phones, iPads, laptops, etc. and now they will be a prominent feature on Timelines. Facebook says “there’s a new class of social apps that let you express who you are through all the things you do.” Music sharing will be a key feature, so it will be interesting to see how social apps evolves over time.

“Dislikes”

  • The Stalker Effect: Going back a few years into someone’s past may be a little too invasive for some. A user can limit said visibility, but Timelines allows for a lot of past information to be seen immediately. Also, the layout reminds me of MySpace — an early social network that allowed for customized pages — which I was not a fan of at all.
  • Not available for brands: I am not sure if brands need the Timeline feature, but the cover photo is intriguing, and it could provide for added visibility and connectivity between a brand, its followers and potential followers. Google+ has “Scrapbook Photos” which allow for creative design to a brand’s page, and a Facebook cover photo could provide the same for brands.
  • Facebook is forcing change: People enjoy this thing called free will, and with every other Facebook profile change in the past, this one will be no different — eventually, you WILL have a Timeline. Right now, you can choose to check out the update before it’s mandatory, so that is a choice, but with a very ephemeral window. Expect the roll out around Dec. 22, so think of it as an early Christmas present.

What do you think of Facebook’s latest update?

10 thoughts on “The social space Timeline continuum: Facebook’s newest profile update

  1. I liked old style Facebook. It’s hard to keep up with all the updates and it sucks that anyone can see my timeline unless I hide my history.

  2. I know change is inevitable, but the new format makes everyones page very confusing. There is too much information on what I call the profile page. Its confusing and the layout doesnt make sense to me, and alot of my friends. Hopefully with time, it will become easier to navigate, but for now…I’d rather stay with the newest older version.

  3. I’m not a huge fan of timeline but I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to it like all of the other changes Facebook has made over the years!

  4. I get so confused with the Timeline! I am being stubborn and have not converted yet but soon I hear I will be dragged kicking and screaming against my will! It will be dropped on me like a house on the Wicked Witch of the West! Not a huge fan of change but I will adjust~ I’m a survivor 🙂

  5. […] Facebook Timelines — Timelines began creeping in toward the end of 2011, and while in its infancy (as of this post, the change hasn’t been made for everyone worldwide yet), I actually am a big fan (maybe one of the few?). I see the potential this could provide at a professional level, amongst other ideas, as per written in one of my previous blog posts. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s