Friday, September 23, 2011

Graphing The Timeline, A Facebook Opinion

Zuck at f8
The social war is in full effect and Facebook is digging in deep with it's recent changes. Today, I am pleased to have a guest post by Kevin Tampone, in which he talks about the updates.

I'll reserve full judgment on the (massive?) changes to Facebook until they're all in place and we can see how they work together, but I do have a few ill-advised, half-formed opinions.

First off, kudos to Facebook for not treading water. Google+ looks to me like the site's first legitimate challenger and the company is obviously not taking the threat lightly. Just speculating here, but adding the ability to consume content in real time with your friends could have been at least partially inspired by Google+'s Hangouts, no? On to some of the other headline-grabbing tweaks…

  • Gestures: I like this (that's not a pun). I especially like that third parties can transform pretty much any action word into a button. I'm in the news business so I'm hoping media outlets will take liberal and creative advantage of this. How about live online coverage of a presidential debate that allows the audience to "agree" or "disagree" with candidates in real time?
  • Subscribe: Again, this one gets a thumbs up and, again, it's largely because of my newsroom roots. This feature is a godsend for media types or anyone, really, with a strong Facebook presence. Clearly ripped from Twitter, but who cares? Now at least we can all keep tabs on what our congressmen are up to on Facebook without being forced to "like" them or, worse, be their friends.
  • OpenGraph: Thumbs down. I'm not a fan of anything that raises privacy red flags and this does. Apps will now need to ask permission to share stuff about you only once and then all bets are off. Personally, I'm cautious about what I post and the first thing I did when I joined Facebook was meticulously adjust my privacy settings. But I think I'm in the minority. Plenty of folks on the site don't realize that openness is the default position. That's not entirely Facebook's fault, but the company doesn't do enough, in my opinion, to guide users in this area.
  • Timeline: The concept is appealing, but I really want to see it in action. It also seems ripe for oversharing. I'll tell you one thing: No way am I going back and posting baby pictures up there. All that awkwardness is safely secured with people who are nowhere near Facebook.