The New Facebook Timeline: A Tour

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The biggest announcement from today’s f8 Conference was the unveiling of the new Facebook user profile, renamed the Timeline. CEO Mark Zuckerberg considers your Timeline “the heart of your Facebook experience, completely rethought from the ground up.”

It is. This is a dramatic change.

In the past, the user profile was simply a collection of what you’re doing along with some basic ways for you to define yourself. The News Feed, though, has always been the meat of Facebook. The Timeline is now another destination.

It starts with look and feel. Your Timeline is headlined with a “Cover Photo,” a large photo that stretches across the top of the page that represents you. It is so easy to select, crop and implement a new Cover Photo, Facebook says, that you may change it daily.

Of course, the change isn’t just cosmetic.

Facebook defines your Timeline as “the story of your life.” Sound dramatic? Depending on how you use it, it may be entirely accurate.

The Timeline is:

1) All your stories
2) All your apps
3) A new way to express who you are

So now, it’s not just about who you are and what you’re doing at this moment. The previous Facebook profile allowed you to sift through your history, but you’d have to click “view more” over and over and over just to get through a few days or weeks, stumbling through unimportant posts along the way. But now, your Timeline is a depiction of your history with Facebook and, if you want, your life.

First of all, the way they do this is beautiful. Very pleasant design. See for yourself in the video above and other images provided by Facebook.

Your Timeline summarizes your activity, pulling the “important” moments (by using the Facebook algorithm) over the past weeks, months and years. The further you go back in time, the less granularity there is.

What if you disagree with what Facebook defines as “important” events in your life? No problem. You can star certain items to be included in your timeline or remove others. The Facebook algorithm ultimately learns what you think is important through your input.

Is your Timeline incomplete? Provide photos and events back before you were on Facebook, going back to your birth (where your Timeline officially starts).

It’s not just about your photos, videos and updates. It’s also about where you’ve been and what you’re doing. If you’ve been using Facebook check-ins, this will come into play here. Use the Map Timeline view to see everywhere you’ve been on a map.

Users can also use applications to express themselves. Connect Nike+ to your Timeline and get a report of your running activity. Use a cooking app to display the recipes you’ve used. Listen to music and display your favorite songs and playlists. It’s automated through your usage of these applications, but you can customize according to your preferences.

How You May Use Your Timeline

While you may have linked to your Facebook profile from your blog or website in the past, it wasn’t much to show off. Suddenly, you have the potential to use your Facebook Timeline as a résumé. Are you an artist? Show off your paintings. Are you an entrepreneur? Walk us through your successful life from the start.

Depending on how open you choose to be, your Timeline may be more revealing to a prospective employer than your LinkedIn profile. And this isn’t just because they may find things you don’t want them to see. It can be a great way to showcase your life.

And really, how successful the new Timeline becomes will depend on how users customize it.

But What Will You Reveal?

This is obviously a nudge to encourage users to share more. The less you share, the less interesting your Timeline.

I’ve kept my Facebook profile on lockdown for non-friends. This may force me to reconsider. Or, I may open up a little more.


Facebook claims that the way applications share your information on your Timeline will be transparent. They also say it will be incredibly easy. The two don’t always mix.

In the coming days and weeks, it will be interesting to see just how these applications interact with the Timeline and just how transparent those interactions are. Can I choose a custom list to share my activities with? Is that clear and obvious when I add the app? Is it easy to change? How many clicks does it take?

It would be in Facebook’s best interests to make it easy for users to share what they want with the appropriate groups. And due to the push towards smart lists, I have a feeling this will be a priority.


If you’re a developer, you have access to the new Timeline immediately. If you aren’t, you can request to become part of the beta by clicking “Sign Me Up” here.

So what do you think? Do you like the changes? How will you use the Timeline? What opportunities do you see?