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Facebook Timeline: A new social life line? Or an easier way to share interests with advertisers?

Facebook Timeline, a new design that’ll no doubt cause a monsoon of moaning once it’s launched, has been announced by Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 conference in San Francisco.

The new Timeline represents a radical redesign of the standard Facebook profile, pulling in information from tracks you’ve played on Spotify or Deezer, books you’ve bought on Kobo, where you’ve check in on Places and how much running you’ve been doing with apps like RunKeeper.

The titular Timeline runs down the centre of the profile page like a tube line on an Underground map, charting your interests on either side of your solipsistic social slipstream.

The Timeline approach is a very visual one; you can have a look for yourself over on Facebook’s ‘Introducing Timeline’ page, where there’s a mock up profile.

A large picture dominated the top of the Timeline profile, sitting above the usual thumbnails for other photo galleries.

Compared to the usual, stripped down Facebook profile, it seems a bit much at first. It even reminded us of good old Myspace for a second. But onc eyour eyes adjust to the bombardment of icons and panels, you see that the layout is actually pretty clean and functional-looking.

Optional features are optional

So while there’ll be the usual keening and whining that comes with a change to the Facebook look and feel (in fact, it’s already started).

Like previous changes to the Facebook layout, Timeline is coming whether you like it or not. But while the new design will be ported over to your profile, the ability to share Spotify information and the like is very much an opt-in thing.

So if you only want to share your Spotify playlist information and not your Kobo reading habits then you can do that. If you don’t want to share anything at all, you can do that too.

If you’re concerned about not wanting to divulge your media purchasing habits with Facebook that’s absolutely fine. While it would be easier for your friends to see what you’ve been up to recently, bear in mind that it’d be easier for anyone else to get an at-a-glance summary of your activities and interests as well.

It remains to be seen exactly how much control you’ll be able to have over what you share via your apps; you might not always want the Spotify app to be telling people exactly what you’re listening to all the time.

Right now, there’s a manual share option enabled via Spotify Social. Or, you can just right click on an album and paste the http link into whatever. This works fine for us.

Older stories

Another interesting feature of Facebook Timeline is that it’ll collect and archive all of your posts, or all the parts of your ‘story’ as Facebook is calling it. Right now, “99% of the stories you share vanish,” resorting to you having to click on ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of your profile.

With Timeline, it’ll apparently be easier to read over your old statuses, as well as archiving ‘more important stuff’ like graduation photos and wedding pictures, which Facebook says gradually “get[s] replaced by updates about what you had for breakfast”.

Again, we think that you can do this already; you can create photo albums for all of the important things like your friend’s wedding day or your holiday and just head over to the relevant album whenever you want to look at them.

While we think being able to access your older posts more conveniently is great, when or to be more accurate, why are you going to want to read through all of them?

If, as Facebook is suggesting, we’re all updating mundane stuff about having eggs for breakfast and the like (partially true), who is going to want to read through all that? It’s going to scan like an incredibly boring modernist novel. But with pictures and links to YouTube cat videos.

Timeline is due to arrive in ‘a few more weeks’ to Facebook on the web; we expect to hear more about mobile versions of Timeline arriving soon.


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