The Scoop on Facebook Timelines

A lot of buzz has been generated in the social media sphere by Facebook’s announcement of its reimagined personal profiles: the Facebook Timeline. Facebook is touting Timeline as a way for its users to “tell your life story with a new kind of profile.”  It allows users to take the content they’ve added into Facebook over the years and present it in a highly personalized format, creating a mini-autobiography of sorts within the social networking sphere. 

Facebook Timelines sport a look that’s less social media and more scrapbook sentimentality, Facebook product chief Sam Lessin told VentureBeat. 

“We’d get out a big box of old pictures, flip through the photos and talk about them,” Lessin said. “We were watching test users reminisce over these things, and we tried to design with that in mind and create that experience.” 

The effort paid off. VentureBeat writer Jolie O’Dell summed up her first taste of Timeline thusly: 

    Years-old memories flashed before me — old friends, old places, things I hadn’t thought about in ages. I got sucked back into the past the same way I would have in front of my mother’s old cedar chest, a trunk packed full of childhood tchotckes and pictures that holds our family’s history. 

    This innocuous social web tool had just made a powerful and convincing bid for more than my information or my time. Facebook was grasping at my emotions by way of my memories, and it was doing a damn good job. 

    With Timeline, Facebook is succeeding where so many other web companies have failed: It has created a technology with real emotional power. 

So what goes into the Timeline? Here’s an overview:

  • Your Cover – Facebook Timelines are heavily visual, and that includes a dominant opening image. “Fill this wide, open space with a unique image that represents you best,” advises the Timeline About Page. “It’s the first thing people see when they visit your timeline.” The cover image does not replace the profile picture – rather, the profile picture sits in as a thumbnail in the foreground at the bottom of the cover image, tying together the concept that this image says something about the person in that profile pic.
  • Your Stories – The next element down on the timeline is a place to “share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos, and life events,” the About page reads. “This is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now.” Users have the option to place a star by their favorite moments to make them widescreen. They also have the option to remove the ones they’d prefer to hide. Components in this section include friends, photos, places, likes, and wall posts.
  • Your Apps – This section gets interactive, tying together the various platforms and technologies people use elsewhere online into one information-sharing zone. As the website describes it, “The movies you quote. The songs you have on repeat. The activities you love. Now there’s a new class of social apps that let you express who you are through all the things you do.” What’s included is up to the user’s preferences, but options include music via Spotify that friends can actually play, lists of books recently read via bookshelf apps like Kobo, movies watched on Netflix or Hulu, or runs made using Nike+ GPS.

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