Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blogger Debate: The Pros and Cons of Facebook Timeline

See this piece over at the Information Space Blog...

Editor’s Note: This post is an opinion piece by two of our bloggers debating about Facebook Timeline. Our first writer, Isaac, believes that the new feature is a stylized way to curate our personal content. Our second writer, Manan, counters that argument by discussing the negative effects of Facebook timeline.

PRO: Our Story Told Beautifully with Facebook Timeline, by Isaac Budmen

At Facebook headquarters they examined the question “What is it that patrons use Facebook for?” the answer to that question? To tell their story. I have a professor that tongue in cheek calls our Facebook Profiles “Shrine’s to Ourselves” given that we curate the information thats on there to fit the image of ourselves that we want to see or, in other words, tell our story the way we want it told. Timeline takes the information that we already have carefully curated, or not so carefully, and streamlines it in a gorgeous new interface that provides an exciting and incredibly intuitive new experience.

In a Nutshell

What Timeline does is it takes all the pieces of data that Facebook has on us and quite literally displays it in the fashion of a timeline (remember those things you had to make back in 4th grade for social studies?). On that timeline it lists everything from events we attended, to friends we added, to photos we were tagged in, to jobs we worked. In a nutshell it takes our time and activity as users of Facebook and streamlines all of it so that it in a very visually pleasing way tells our story.

Awesome New Feature: Life Event

Timeline adds some excellent new storytelling feature called Life Event which gives users the ability to now show your achievements and promotions at work, the purchasing of a new vehicle, or weight loss and more. Life Event has five catagories: work and education, family and relationships, living, health and wellness, milestones and experiences. This adds a very unique human element to the page where you can add the various hurdles and achievements that you have overcome in your life as part of your story, very much like the main characters of our favorite novels. Want to show off that new tattoo? Now you can attach a photo and story to it. Just went on a first date with your Soul-mate? Now there is an milestone badge for that too. The Life Event category brings in the very unique story telling elements of each of our lives and allows us and our friends to piece together our story in a way that is, ironically and very impressively, both standardized and unique at the same time.


More then just a New User Interface

Facebook’s Timeline is at it’s very basic aesthetic a gorgeous new interface that uses cutting edge new coding, technology and browser features from the brilliant developers at their headquarters. Although, some people will chock Timeline up to simply a new user interface, ultimate, I believe Timeline is much bigger then the sum of its parts and is a fresh start in the world of social interaction, personal branding, and above all storytelling.

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CON: Facebook Timeline is Just Another Annoying Change, by Manan Kakkar

Zuckerberg and company have redesigned Facebook’s layout several times since it’s inception, but the introduction of Timeline is fundamental. Facebook has been our online identity, and it is now a visual timeline of our life. As someone who spends several hours on the Internet, opening and closing the Facebook tab is part of my workflow. I subscribe to several news websites and tech enthusiasts on Facebook to follow what’s happening. I share articles I write and the ones I find interesting. Essentially, Facebook’s not as much to stay in touch with friends or be a farmer for me as much it is a social news feed.

Facebook’s Inconvenient Alteration

The new changes in Facebook affect my news feed and user profiles in a way I find to be an annoyance. The articles I share are now split on two sides with images a little bigger and lesser focus on the text. When I visit someone’s profile to read what they’ve shared I get lost. It was quicker, easier and more convenient to go through content on a profile in the old format—list view with latest first. My news feed is now controlled by Facebook’s algorithm. I often get a profile picture of my friend as the latest story a few days later because someone posted a comment on it. I don’t care. I spend enough time on Facebook to know if a friend I care about changed his profile picture.

Timeline Changing our Priorities

Gawker Media’s Nick Denton once said that Facebook’s the social news paper that we’ve all wanted, and I agree; but Facebook’s algorithms now keep showing photos of my friend’s ex with a new guy instead of articles from my friends about Apple’s decision to not port Siri to older iPhones. My priorities have been changed by Facebook and I don’t appreciate that. Talking about Facebook’s representation of timeline itself isn’t better than another timeline tool, Memolane; it doesn’t even come close. Facebook’s ever-growing page slows my browser, while Memolane’s horizontal view is convenient to browse through.

Which side are you on? Let us know in the comments! Contact Isaac via email at ibudmen@gmail.com or on Twitter @Ibudmen. Contact Manan via email at manan_kakkar@hotmail.com or on Twitter @Manan.