I’ve been playing around with Facebook’s new “Timeline” feature for the last few days. It’s definitely bold and different, but I’m not yet sold on it. Although it’s arguably Facebook’s biggest initiative since the social network launched, I have a feeling that it’s going to pan out similarly to other new feature introductions — some people are going to love it and some people are going to hate it, but few people will leave Facebook because of it. Here are some random thoughts from my three days with Timeline.
– I hated Timeline for the first few hours. This was hardly surprising. Hundreds of X-Men comics have taught me that people fear and hate what they don’t understand. I definitely didn’t understand Timeline at first. Using it was jarring and overwhelming. Hell, just looking at it was confusing. I didn’t know where anything was and in many cases I wasn’t sure where to look for it.
– As I got more familiar with Timeline, I became fascinated by it. It’s definitely a new and different way to look at and organize personal information. I found myself thinking, “You know, if I used Facebook for purely personal reasons, this would be totally neat!” Unfortunately, I don’t. I decided long ago
never to walk in anyone’s shadow that I was only going to have one Facebook account. Several of my friends have personal and work Facebook accounts. That’s definitely the more practical thing to do, but I also think it’s slightly pretentious. Because I mostly use Facebook for interacting with readers, promoting articles, and keeping tabs on videogame industry peeps, I limit the personal info I put on the service. As an atypical Facebook user, I won’t get as much out of Timeline as someone that uses Facebook primarily for personal enjoyment.
– Sorting through my birthday wishes was outstanding for getting used to Timeline. At this point, I was accustomed to where everything was. Getting a steady stream of birthday wishes got me used to how information flowed. This made Timeline click for me. I can see myself having a sad February day in 2012 and clicking on September 2011 to cheer myself up with my birthday wishes. I can also see myself randomly clicking on a month and year just to remember what happened. It’s like the “pensieve” from the Harry Potter movies…but with tech instead of magic.
– Today I tried to upload old photos to see how they would behave in Timeline. After uploading a batch of pictures from the Spike TV 2003 VGAs, I was disappointed to see that they didn’t pop up in the 2003 section of my Timeline. This is absolutely stupid. The meta data is right there in the files. The pics should automatically be placed in 2003. I didn’t see a way to manually do this either. There’s a chance I’m missing the menu for this option. There’s also a chance that this feature will be implemented later. Either way, it’s moronic that this isn’t done automatically.
– Three days later, I’m not sure if I like Timeline. I’m having fun playing around with it because it’s new, but I’m still not sure it’s better for the way that I use Facebook. It’s certainly bold and interesting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Obviously I’m stuck on Facebook and can’t leave. It’s too powerful for networking, marketing, and outreach purposes. That’s where you come in! If you’re already using Timeline, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. If not, let’s revisit this on September 29 when it starts rolling out to everyone.