Facebook’s Timeline Gives You a Look Back

Facebook has been chastised a lot over the years for their constant stream of small (sometimes unannounced) changes that they’ve made to the site: moving the chat around several times, modifying the profile, changing how news is displayed, and more. These have each been strongly criticized by people who immediately hate changes. Facebook’s Timeline, when it finally rolls out, is going to be a huge change and I know people will hate it just because.

Here’s a quick overview of the new changes, so you’ll hopefully be more prepared when they’re finally implemented. Quick hint: Timeline looks awesome, and odds are, you’ll love it!

What is Timeline?

Facebook is touting Timeline with this tagline: Tell the story of your life with a new kind of profile. Instead of displaying all information linearly (that is, one story at a time in reverse chronological order), you get a 2-column layout that displays all of your stories and highlighted news. Once you read a certain limit, you’ll be able to browse older posts by month (for the last 3 months) and year (all the way back until the year you were born).

Facebook Timeline

I think this is a great move by Facebook and here’s why: Facebook has been around almost 8 years now (wild isn’t it?) and with the current way the profiles are, posts older than a few weeks (or days, depending on how often you post) are lost in obscurity. With Timeline, you now have a way to look back, like a digital, interactive scrapbook, at what you thought/posted/got in 2005, for example. Those posts are no longer lost in the abyss.

Some people may argue that it’s bad to bring up stuff posted so long ago, but the fact of the matter is if it didn’t belong on the Internet, you shouldn’t have posted it there. Do the right thing now and delete it!

The Tour

The best thing to do here is give a walk-through of Timeline to allow people to get familiar with the new layout, and that’s exactly what I’ll do, using my very own profile!

The top area of the profile now gives you a ‘cover’ image, which can be any image you’d like, either from your profile or one you upload.

Cover Image

Under that, you’ll notice some of your basic information, as well as Friends, Photos, Maps, and Likes. You can also click the “About” link under your profile picture, where you’ll go to an about page with all of the more “static” information; that is, information you don’t post/don’t change as often. This information includes work and education, “About Me,” places you’ve lived, relationships and family, and more.

About Page

Again, I like what Facebook has done here. They’ve separated your personal information from the stuff that you share. Your profile reads more like a personal website or blog now. Speaking of, let’s get to the crux of the matter- the timeline itself!

The Timeline

The first thing I’d like to point out about Timeline is the area to the right, where you’ll see a list of decades (click on a decade to see all of the years in that decade, and a year to see all the months in that year). From there you can jump right to post from any year; as I said earlier, this makes it a lot easier to view older posts from yourself or from friends. You major milestones will also be integrated, which is really cool.

List of Years

I also want to point out that as you scroll, a top bar with your name and a + button follows you down your timeline. Mouse-over that bar to reveal a few buttons to add events and milestones to your Timeline.

Add Events and Milestones

Aside from those additions, there is the timeline itself which displays popular status updates, friends’ posts, photos, major events, check-ins, notes, and more. This is all led by the year you’re viewing.

Timeline Info

This goes all the way back until the earliest year you have stored in Facebook. For example, if you have the year you were born, it will go back to then (it actually says, “Born” on the timeline). From there, it will list all of the major events in your life until the first year you actually got Facebook. This includes the birth of younger family members, graduations, starting new jobs and more.

Once you get to the year you started using Facebook, your Facebook activity will be included. You’ll be able to tell major events from standard Facebook activity because they span the full width of the timeline, as opposed to standard activity which will be on the left or right only.

That’s the Timeline- pretty simple right? There are also some other cool features I’d like to point out.

Other Features

The first feature (and possibly my favorite) is the Map, which displays all of the places you’ve checked in or traveled to. Click on one of the purple circles to get more details. Larger numbers will zoom in on the map to see more specifically where you checked in. Smaller numbers (it looks like it’s either less than 25, or as local as my check-ins get) will bring up a list of the check-ins for you to view.

The New Map

There is also the activity log, which you can get to by clicking “View Activity” on your profile. This is a more tradition view of your standard Facebook activity, still organized by year and month. This was a really nice touch by Facebook.

The Activity Log

The Likes, Friends, and Photos pages were also redesigned, sporting a wider display and infinite scrolling, which makes navigating (or at least viewing) a lot easier!

Conclusion

I’m hoping this walk through/overview will make the transition to using Timeline easier. I really think Facebook did a great job here- they’ve managed to resurrect some older posts to help you take a walk down memory lane, while also prompting you (or me at least) to post more to make the most of the new design. If you haven’t already enabled Timeline, there’s a several step process outlined over at Techcrunch. Let us know what you think in the comments!


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