Sunday, January 15, 2012

Facebook Timeline - Like it or Hate it, it is here to stay!

The Facebook Timeline is a new feature that most FB users started using (willingly or unwillingly) since the last month or so.  For all those who are quite annoyed with the user-unfriendliness of this new feature, let me tell you, I have been putting up and coping with Timeline for the last two and a half months.

Yes.. much before, normal FB users got to know what Timeline is all about.  No, I am not a Priority Facebook'r, but much before its public launch, Facebook had given access to its Timeline to its select users who have a 'developer' account with Facebook and I, along with other 'Facebook Developers' who create apps and host it in other websites could actually enable Timeline in our profiles.  

But there was nothing 'privileged' about it, for only a Timeline enabled profile could view my Timeline, so it was like, nobody knew that I have got this new 'snazzy' thing on my profile.  And when everyone got one, I mean the Timeline, I've been getting hate messages against it, for, I think, nobody likes Timeline. 

But activated on your FB profile, it is pretty difficult to understand it, as to what it is all about and most of my friends atleast, is having a difficulty to adapt with the settings and work their way through this.  It is pretty much confusing for most of them, may be, because, we never saw our Facebook like this in the first place. 

So now, that you have Timeline on your profile, and on the top, you don't like it, let me tell you.  There is no way you can roll-back this feature, or deactivate Timeline from your FB profile.  You have to put up with it, rather live with it.  And for those who don't like timeline, let me warn you, Facebook has plans to make the timeline as the default view of your profile sooner or later. 

So why not look what is 'good' in this devil that has caught us? May be, there is some goodness lurking somewhere, which we may like in the days to come.  I would like to throw light on some of the features of the Timeline, in the hope that, you'll find it useful while finding your intricate ways to customise it to your liking as well as your ease of use. 

THE TIMELINE

As the name itself suggest, Timeline is a way to arrange your life-story date-wise, which you can publish to your 'world'. That means, your Facebook is no longer a social networking site, but rather your 'diary of events' which you can share with your friends (well, it may / may not be public, as with Facebook, you always had absolute control over what you share and to whom you share, the basic premise with which Facebook as a social networking site started out)

Getting around and featuring yourself:       



One of the best features of Timeline is that you can actually go back in time and post a status message that happened in a different instance of time. This just means that your FB storybook can now start with a status message announcing your birth itself. Isn't wonderful that you announce your own birth event? By the way, with Timeline, Facebook has give you the option of customising and further categorising your timeline event as a 'Life Event' (such as your birth, your marriage, or even your break-up), a 'Place' (a history of all those places that you visited),  a 'Photo' or just a 'Status Update'.  The category 'Life Event' is further divided into sub-categories 'Work & Education', 'Family & Relationships', 'Home & Living', 'Health & Wellbeing' as also 'Travel and Experiences'.  These sub-categories have further sub-categories which I would suggest, you readers, explore yourself. 

Once you add something on your timeline, it is featured there, and every feature on the timeline is called as a Module.  You can minimise and maximise a Module to show its importance. you can maximise a story by 'starring', by hover over a story on your timeline and then clicking it.  When you 'Star' a story, the story expands itself to fill the width of your monitor. When you don't 'Star' a story, it is only shown in the timeline as a small rectangular box.  Starred stories are also always visible on your timeline. You have the option of hiding any of your Modules or Delete it. 

Going Back in Time:

You can also change the date of a story on a timeline.  This actually moves the story to another location on your timeline. Almost like timetravel it seems, but it is not. You are only changing where in your timeline your story appears.  For this, you need to move your cursor to the story, click the edit icon and then click 'change date', enter the new date and click confirm.  It is as simple as that. 

The Cover Page:       

The second best thing about the Timeline is the 'Cover Page'. A cover page is just another profile photo which you can show, in addition to your profile pic.  Concept wise, it should not be your profile pic, but rather your status pic, a sort of an extention of your status message.  It means you can show your location, or what you are doing or suggest what you are going through, for example, I can have a photo of 'Clouds' to just suggest to the world that 'I am on cloud nine...'.  This is a place where you can get imaginative to your heart's content and only sky is the limit.  

THE ACTIVITY LOG

Another great feature that came with Timeline is the 'Activity Log'. It is just a list of your activities and status messages including your likes, comments, your friend activity and even the photos that you are tagged in, which ONLY YOU CAN SEE.  Activity Log is completely private, and the best thing about the Activity Log is that, you have complete control, I repeat, COMPLETE CONTROL, over it.



Apart from that, the Activity Log is a wonderful tool to manage everything that you share on Facebook.  Once you have shared something on your timeline and Facebook, you can always go to your Activity Log and review it.  All stories (that is what each activity is called here) are organised date wise and you can browse through it, year-wise, and then month-wise.  The Activity Log can be accessed by clicking the Activity Log button just below your 'Cover' on the Timeline. For each story, on the right, you can see two dropdown menus, where one is used for reviewing the 'privacy' settings for your post and the second dropdown box controls the visibility of the story on your timeline.  So you see, you can customise your timeline the way you want.  No worries at all that your wife will see you having that cock-tail party the other night.  You also have the option of permanently deleting something from Facebook, report some story as spam or remove a Facebook app from 'Activity Log'.

Another great feature of Activity Log is that you can filter the stories first by date and then by the category such as Comments, Likes, Your Posts, Posts by Others, Notes, Photos, Friends, Videos, etc so that you can always search for that thread in which you commented something which you are now unable to find.   Earlier, when you had the Facebook wall, such things always got lost with new feeds coming up and it was indeed a pain searching for a particular post or a wall photo. 

THE TICKER

Last, but not the least it the Ticker.  Now, I must say, this is the  one thing that drives me crazy (frankly I dislike this so much).  The Ticker is the new thing that shows up on your right side of your main profile and it gives you the 'breaking news' about  which friend has done what.  It happens on real time in the sense that if your friend has shared something, you can immediately see the update on the ticker, but it takes a while to feature itself on your wall.  Through the ticker, facebook says, you can actually listen to music along with your friends.  Facebook throws up a Music-Note icon next to the name of your friend who, say, is listening to a song.  Now to listen to that song along with him, just move your cusror to his name and click the 'Listen With' button.  The website through which your friend is hearing music will be opened and it will play the very same music on your computer as well.



Others can see only the posts, comments, and likes that you share with them, or can see only those friends updates to whom you are subscribed.  You can subscribe or unsubscribe a friend by going to his/her profile and hovering your mouse to the 'Subscribe' button on the right of your screen.  So, you see, you can always avoid that creepy guy who posts on your wall with crazy videos by 'unsubscribing' him. 

The ticker is dynamic in nature.  Dynamic in the sense that it is contextual by nature.  So while you are reading teh 'Washington Post Social Reader' on facebook, the Ticker shows you what your friends are reading.  While you are playing on farmville, the ticker changes itself to show you games updates from your friends.  Go back to your main profile,  ticker will revert itself back to beaming status updates and the likes.  Now, this is the most important part, Ticker, by default is not available for everyone. It is only active for those facebook users who have a 'certain level of account activity' (to quote facebook).  So, if you indeed have ticker on your profile, consider yourself as a privilaged facebook user.    


MY TAKE

‘Like’ it or hate it, the Timeline is here to say, and now that I have told you about most of the new things in your Facebook profile, you can now be imaginative with this 'Timeline', and twist and turn your profile to the way you want it.  It is a good thing actually and I am sure, soon you'll start liking it rather than hating it.  And while you start liking your Timeline, it will make you remember that evergreen English Poem 'Invictus' written by William Ernest Henley, "I'm the Master of my fate: I'm the Captain of my soul.", because, thats what Facebook has done exactly with Timeline now - Empower you more on the cyberspace by making YOU the one, who is gonna decide what you do with your Facebook Profile.  


P.S : This is a post entirely composed with the help of Open Source Software and Sites... I've used pixlr.com for editing photos instead of Adobe Photoshop, used Open Office for editing the text instead of Microsoft Word, Facebook and Blogger itself promotes Open Source Standards and last but not the least, I've clicked the 'Submit' button from a SmartPhone running 'Gingerbread

credits : with inputs from Facebook Help Centre

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