Computerworld – Facebook will soon foist its new Timeline feature on users as part of its plan to update its interface.
Dictionary.com defines a timeline as “a linear representation of important events in the order in which they occurred.” The key attributes of a timeline are linearity and chronology.
Facebook‘s Timeline is a brand name — and it’s somewhat misleading.
A Twitter feed is a timeline. Google+ streams are timelines. Blogs are timelines. In fact all major social networks, RSS feed readers, blogs and microblogs offer timelines — linear representations of chronologies — as the default view.
Facebook’s branded Timeline is different from those interfaces. Among the differences in Facebook’s Timeline are the size of the items and the fact that it has two columns rather than one. It scrolls all the way down to the beginning and has other visual and functional differences.
Timeline de-emphasizes the posts of other people in favor of a highlighted emphasis on one’s own activities. “Me Time” would be a more accurate name than “Timeline.”
Facebook once did have a much more timeline-like interface. Back in 2009, it introduced “Facebook Lite,” which was truly linear. Facebook originally rolled out Facebook Lite in India to serve the segment of that population with slow Internet connections. However, people back home heard about it and decided they wanted it, so Facebook offered it as an option in the U.S.
But it didn’t last long. Without apps and pages, and with fewer and smaller ads, the Facebook Lite timeline wasn’t the cash-cow interface the company wanted.
Either way, the “timeline” idea is nothing unique to Facebook. What’s interesting is not that yet another social or content service is rolling out yet another variation on the timeline concept, but that products that never had timeline interfaces are getting them.