Facebook has finally rolled out it’s Timeline feature. As is always the case, there are folks who already don’t like, even though they may or may not have seen or used it. This happens whenever Facebook (or any application for that matter) makes changes. This is normal, people generally are resistant to change. And, sometimes, for good reason. Not every change that Facebook makes is good. In fact, it is generally the opposite. Most of the past changes ended doing something that hindered user’s privacy. And Timeline has that same potential, but…and this is a big but…everything in the Timeline has ALREADY been posted, publicly, to Facebook. To give users an opportunity to review and remove or add information, photos, etc., they are not going to force the change for seven days, which is far more time than they have given in the past.
So, what is Timeline? Timeline is, just as it states, a timeline of everything you have done on Facebook. You could, if you were so inclined, put your entire life on the service. You can document your birth, all of your important life events, relationships, family, work history, everything. If you have used Facebook for any length of time, then quite a bit of this work is already done. Even if you choose to leave it as is, it is still quite useful.
One of the things I’ve always liked about Facebook is the interaction with friends and the ability to post links, links that often have previews. I use this quite a bit to find things that interest me or even to replace the Favorites in my browser. Problem, though, is that if you have an active feed, this can be difficult. Finding items, in the past, has been a chore. Timeline helps you with that. Even so, it will still require some effort as not everything is displayed, but you can still get to what you want easily.
As I said, not everything will be displayed. Many posts will appear as a dot in your timeline. Simply hover over the dot and the post will display. It would take far too long for the page to load in your browser if they displayed everything. I don’t mind this at all. In fact, after only a couple of days, I rather like Timeline.
One of the better things they did is re-organize your info. It now displays in a horizontal bar with the highlights, including your work, school and relationship status. It shows nine thumbnails, at random, of your friends and also has maps and your likes. There is an ‘Update Info’ button that lets you expand and update the information. The organization and appearance are clean and, as my fiancé noted, it looks more ‘grown up.’ She’s right, it does.
Another nice, but simple thing they did was allow you to pick a photo to act as your ‘cover’. What that is is a photo that takes up about a third of the upper portion of the page and has in inset of your avatar photo on the lower left. It makes it look personal without being cartoonish.
The Timeline also has boxes that show your recent activity, the games you play and, of course, the rest of your timeline (which consists of the items from your newsfeed.) You edit or remove these boxes, so if you don’t want people to know you are addicted to Words With Friends, you can hide it from the Timeline.
You can also update your status, add photos, add locations or life events from a floating toolbar. As you scroll down your page, the floating bar moves with you, staying at the top of the browser window. A nice feature.
Usability is pretty good, but, with all things electronic, it is not perfect and there will be those who will just hate this. I think, though, that most users will embrace the change.
I would urge everyone to give it a chance. Google is probably warming up their copying machine to make Google+ look like this as well.
It seems that the Android flavor of the Facebook has been updated to incorporate the Timeline. The update was made available today. You can go to the Android App Store on your phone and download the new version now. As with the web version, the Android version makes your page more organized and has a nice, clean appearance. It looks pretty much like the web version, but is, due to screen limitations, only one column.