It’s so hard to keep up these days with the Internet, and the Facebook and the Twitter, and the thousands of other services now on offer of which I have not even the beginning of the faintest idea about. As soon as this is posted, it will, no doubt, become entirely obselete: a defunct guide to the amorphous anomoly that is Facebook. Once a novel way of keeping up with the Joneses (and the Smiths, the Johnsons and the Jones-Smithsons), Facebook has once again undergone an upgrade to rival even the most fortuitious recipient of Darwinian evolution, changing once more into an immediately unidentifiable and unwelcome stranger in your living room – much to the chagrin of many, many disgruntled users. So hold onto your homepages, because recent changes to the user interface (or UI if you’re that way inclined) are only the beginning of Zuckerberg’s revamp of the ‘Book into an all-singing, all-dancing, all-sharing highly-curated biography of your entire life.
At this week’s f8 conference in San Francisco, the Zuck and Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek announced in their keynote address some preliminary details for Facebook’s much-rumoured Music Service that will allow users to integrate their music service provider into their newsfeed, sharing automatically (once permission is granted) in your newsfeed every album listened to, song played and radio station streamed in what Zuckerberg has dubbed “real-time serendipity… You’re going to discover all the things your friends are doing around you, right now” – what, because Facebook doesn’t already do that for you? You really want more? The idea behind it then seems that the service is provided automatically – you essentially no longer have to ‘Like’ an artist or album, because seeking out their page would waste valuable Face-time. You’ll then be able to latch on to the next-big-thing in real time and chat about it as if you were in the same room as your friends. Imagine that.
Your ‘Friends’ will then be able to stream what you’re listening to from your profile page while being able to identify the service you’re engaging with to do so, which for the moment seems to be primarily Spotify-oriented. Facebook will then be able to compile reports on your listening habits: “It’s amazing how much music you can discover through your friends,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m really excited about what this next wave of music companies is doing with Open Graph. They’re not trying to block… they’re trying to get you to listen more and discover through your friends.” Other services announcing their involvement include Rhapsody, Jelli, iHeartRadio, MOG, Rdio, Songza, Soundcloud, MixCloud, Deezer, and ticketing companies include Ticketmaster, Ticketfly, Eventbrite, and ScoreBig. The push then will extend into movies and news media: all your life in one place – wasn’t that an Apple slogan?
The most significant change, however, seems to be the introduction of Timeline: it’s the nip/tuck Face-lift your profile page would never admit to longing for. Gone is the single-column chronological lay-out that made digging through the archives of your latest fixation an endlessly gruelling cycle of scrolling and clicking ‘Older Posts’; instead, Timeline is literally an annual timeline embedded into your profile, which is now a dual-column pastiche of photos, updates, media and whatever else you care to divulge, alongside a year-by-year timeline that enables users to trawl through a finely curated, user-generated biography of your life up until the present moment. You’ll be able to pick-and-choose the moments that represent you best, as well as a wide-screen landscape portrait of you at your finest moment. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? You looking your certified hottest best. You’re a regulation hottie – own it.
Also revamped, Facebook’s app services. No longer the realm of a feed as bloated as a Cow’s udder on FarmVille, Facebook’s Open Graph framework will enable users to compile the content generated from their apps alongside regular content, so effectively (and according to the promotional video, see below) when you listen to ‘Letting Up’ on Spotify, after you go for your daily job in Golden Gate Park while using the Nike+ app to log your route, while you cook Rainbow Chard for dinner, all of this can be streamed seamlessly to your newsfeed and allow to you truly “express who you really are” (Zuckerberg, 2011). All this automatically fed information will be streamed in a separate newsfeed called Ticker – sound familiar? It’s Facebook’s assault on Twitter and Zuckerberg hopes you’ll bring the minutiae of your life in 140 characters or less back to the ‘Book – where it belongs.
So while you get all hot-and-bothered about the recent changes inflicted on your Facebooks, save some of that misdirected time and aggression for the imminent overhaul. Timeline is available now to developers and will start rolling out across your screens and smartphones in the next couple of weeks.
In other words, you can’t fight fate f8.