Organizing our autobiographies : The Facebook Timeline

  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/includes/ : eval()'d code on line 1.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/includes/ : eval()'d code on line 1.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 879.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 589.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/ on line 149.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/ on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/ on line 135.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /courses/i202/public_html/f12/sites/all/modules/social_media/social_media.module on line 248.

Facebook’s “Timeline” feature which was introduced in December 2011 has now been made mandatory. This feature allows the users to highlight photos, events and posts from the past on their profiles and create a story that represents their life in the way they want to share it with the world.

It is one of the most radical redesigns that Facebook has attempted and it is essentially a change in the way the information about a person is organized and represented. People update news stories of their lives on Facebook on a daily basis but in the earlier chronological representation, the old stories would get buried deep inside their “Most Recent” activity stream, never to be found again. The new format eliminates this issue beautifully by allowing users to add events in their past and showcase these important events on their timeline so they never get lost. (e.g: a user can add “Bought my first car” as a life event today to January 2000 of their timeline, which will show up on his profile for the rest of his life under the year 2000 in the timeline). So instead of Facebook organizing a profile for a user, the user now curates his own life story. Users also get the power to control the visibility of every single event that has occurred on their timeline.  With this change, the Facebook profile takes a big leap from being just a linear representation of a person’s latest updates, to being full blown autobiographies replete with customized access control mechanisms.

Most website design changes are met with heavy criticism and the Facebook change is no exception. The interesting thing is that unlike other websites, the timeline change deals with the personal data that users choose to share with the world. With timeline being made mandatory, users are enraged about not having a choice to revert back. Not everyone would like the structure of their desks redesigned completely (even though they still get to organize their books in different racks according to their preference) and most importantly, people wouldn’t like to be forced to reorganize to begin with. Facebook is also being sued by Cubic Network, a four year-old Chinese technology company who claim that timeline way of organizing data was invented by them in 2008 which raises questions about whether one can really own copyright over the way things are organized on a webpage.

Related links :

Facebook made mandatory :
Cubix suing Facebook :