Hartley Brody

The New Facebook Profile Changes Everything

I’m going to say something you don’t hear very often: I LOVE the new Facebook changes.

Here’s why.

facebook timeline

Social Media is Awkward

Since Facebook began, it has always been focused on keeping you connected to your friends. Originally, you could only exist within your college’s “network” (remember those?) Eventually they opened the site up to high school students and then everyone.

But the biggest fundamental change to Facebook came with the introduction of the News Feed back in 2006. There was a huge initial backlash but everyone got used to it after a few months.

With the News Feed, Facebook made it vastly easier to keep up with what your friends were doing – “creeping” as it became affectionately known. You would log on and instantly be able to see what your friends were up to. In this way, Facebook became centered around viewing your friends’ updates and photos.

But no one really knew why they should post an update.

It seems silly to say now that we’re all used to the concept, but it’s still weird for many people. “Why do I need to tell everyone what I’m up to? I mean, who really cares?” Or you’d hear about privacy concerns: “I don’t want everyone to know where I am and what I’m doing!”

The New Timeline

But with the introduction of Facebook’s new “Timeline” profiles, it gives all of those updates a purpose.

facebook timeline navigation The most recent updates will still be near the top of your profile, but all of the important things in your life are only a few clicks away. There’s a navigation bar on the side of your profile that allows you to easily jump to different sections of you life. High school photos and statuses from freshman year of college are only a few clicks away.

All of the information you’ve ever posted is neatly organized. Some people will inevitably complain that this is some sort of privacy violation or that it’s “creepy” – ignoring all of the wonderful benefits.

Not only does it make it easier to find your old updates (“Now where did I put that photo?”) but it also makes it easier to glance through someone else’s life history. Major events like graduation, moving and employment are all highlighted in the Timeline, making it easy to find milestones in a person’s life.

facebook timeline graduation

Now it’s effortless to learn about a new friend, or find out whatever happened to an old acquaintance. All of the information we’ve been putting into Facebook is finally organized in a way that makes sense.

Of course, you can go in an edit all of major events that show up on your Timeline, removing ones that you don’t want to have featured. Facebook has even added ways for you to designate new updates as significant, like moving to a new apartment, getting a pet, breaking a bone, buying a car, and more. This makes it even easier to catalog and organize the information you post.

facebook timeline update

A Digital Scrapbook

Which brings me to why this is all so exciting.

By organizing our lives into a chronological, contextual and social timeline, there is now a compelling reason to put all of our information on Facebook. Before it was just a social network. But with the new Timeline, Facebook becomes the world’s most intelligent scrapbook.

Facebook is now the home of our online identities. A place for us to not only connect with friends, but keep records of our lives.

More Than a Social Network

All of this information has of course been sitting in Facebook’s databases for years. But with the new Timelines it’s finally organized in a browsable, easy to use catalog.

There were other announcements that came out of the f8 conferences yesterday like more integration with third party websites, improvements to the open graph and more opportunities for real time interaction on the site.

Those new features will take time to adopt, so it might be awhile before we see their impact. But the new Timeline is something that will have a huge and immediate impact on how you use the site.

You can enable your own Timeline now, or you can wait until they start rolling out across the site in a few days.

Either way, this will have a profound impact on how we use the site and interact with others on it. The new Timeline moves Facebook beyond ephemeral updates and social connections, making it a place to easily share our entire lives with each other.

This will change the way we think about social networking, allowing us to easily maintain and share our entire identities around the internet.

Our updates now have significance and meaning. That is why I love the new Facebook changes. You should too.