In-Depth: The New Facebook Timeline 4

This is a guest post by Emily Matthews, who is currently applying to masters degree programs across the U.S. She loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature, and lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.

The folks at Facebook seem to always be tinkering with their formula, and within the last couple weejs, Facebook introduced a new type of profile: Timeline.  It’s quite a change from the old type of profile, with your picture in the left-hand corner and your wall covering the majority of the page.  Now you can essentially chronicle your entire life, from birth to the present.

The first most obvious change is the cover photo that spans across the top of your profile.  This seems to be a change that makes your profile more like a blog with a header image.  Your cover is to “fill this wide, open space with a unique image that represents you best. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your timeline.”  You can choose from photos you have already uploaded in your albums or upload a new image from your computer.  For my cover photo, I decided to go with a Wordle image that I created from one of my pieces of fiction.  Perhaps use an image from Flickr as your cover photo if you’d like something artistic.  The cover allows you to customize your profile to a greater extent than Facebook has allowed before.

The next most obvious change is the wall.  The wall has disappeared and been replaced by your stories, with staggered boxes on the left and right with your status updates, photos, friend activity, and everything else that was normally posted to your wall.  It’s a little busy in its layout; your eyes bounce from one side to the other, trying to figure out what should be read or looked at first. Facebookers dislike change, and messy change is often the first to frustrate.

The third most obvious change is the timeline itself.  Facebook has always fallen short in its ability for a user to go back to older posts.  Now you can click on the year you want (right-hand side) and go back to posts from years ago.  Enjoy déjà vu when yuo read status updates and friends’ posts from five years ago or more (depending on how long you’ve had a Facebook.  I have had my Facebook since my senior year of high school, so reading posts about dinner reservations for prom brings back great memories.  The timeline feature also allows you to post “life events” within the timeline, such as moving to new places, attending schools, getting married, having children, earning a degree, etc.  You can post photos to accompany these events.  Your timeline even includes a post of when you are born!  Although I would, perhaps, stay away from posting an actual photo of your birth.

The new Timeline profile is available now if you would like to play with it, and it’s a rather fun new entry in Facebook’s incessant tinkering.  Some days I rather wish for the old school profile and news feed (remember when the news feed didn’t even exist?), but the Timeline is interesting enough to play with that, hopefully, not too many people will complain once they are forced to switch over.

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