With the introduction of Timeline, Facebook profile pages have become an amazing visualization of your online and offline life. Back in April 2011, Fast Company reported that data visualization guru’s Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case had moved west to join Facebook’s product design team in California.
Looking back, this was significant news. Facebook deserves a round of applause for bringing in such experts to reimagine the data from our social graph. And with the introduction of even more data collection opportunities from Open Graph, there was a clear need to better present this information on our Facebook profile pages.
Timeline now allows you to share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events. With this change Facebook may have become the most significant social networking site. LinkedIn, Twitter and, perhaps, Google+ will still have relevance in the future but it appears Facebook wants to be more than just a soap box where you can shout your most recent status update or share photos of last night’s party.
In return for making it the most popular social network and for sharing your life events, Facebook is rewarding you with a rich visualization of your life and essentially becoming your biographer.
This is a significant shift because it signals to me that Facebook cares about how both you and your social graph consume data. The rise of social networks have made us an even more voyeuristic society, so why not make it an easy and visually pleasing experience?
The introduction of Timeline should also signal the rise of self-curation, the process of curating, editing, and presenting our own life events. Facebook has given us the ability to transform our Facebook profile pages by staring your favorite moments to make them widescreen, or remove the ones you want to hide.
Facebook will attempt to help us out here as well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Timeline will attempt to present only the most important and significant posts the further you scroll back in the Timeline. Combined with self-curation, your Facebook profile page should now present the most important dates and events of your life.
As part of the introduction to Timeline it appears Facebook has also introduced a small, but significant, enhancement to the publisher bar. Besides simply uploading a photo or adding a status update, you can now add a job, get engaged, announce that you lost a family member and more.
Through self-curation and a bit of help from Facebook, Timeline should serve as a replacement to services like Memolane and become the online equivalent to the history of you.
Another significant addition to your timeline is the return of applications to your Facebook profile page because of the enhancements to Open Graph.
Simply put, the addition of applications to your Facebook Timeline allows you to seamlessly share the movies you watch, the songs you listen to, and the activities that you love.
As seen in the preview from Facebook, the addition of applications should better organize activities while immediately socializing them. This represents a significant opportunity, and clearly raises the bar for the presence of brands in social media. Gone are the days of simply liking a post, page or article.
While the opportunities for applications were certainly talked about at f8, the Facebook developer’s conference, it appears Facebook has decided that expanding the Open Graph and collecting even more data should make for a much more rich social experience.
What are your thoughts on self-curation and the introduction of Facebook Timeline? Will this mean even more sharing of data on Facebook? Is it a Google+ killer or simply a new visualization of your Facebook profile? Find me on Twitter (@djenders) or leave a comment below.