Social-media loving students, listen up!


Facebook is making major, major, changes to your profile, with yesterday's announcement of the new Timeline profile, which has been in development for several years, and was announced earlier at the F8 conference in the Spring.  The feature allows users to collect their 'life story' in a much more engaging, photographic-heavy design, than ever before.  But, not everyone is thrilled about the changes that will be rolling out to ALL Facebook users within a week.  Check out some of the highlights so you're not left behind the tidal wave of change!


Facebook describes the overall intention of the the new feature:

With timeline, now you have a home for all the great stories you've already shared. They don't just vanish as you add new stuff.  Timeline is wider than your old profile, and it's a lot more visual. The first thing you'll notice is the giant photo right at the top. This is your cover, and it's completely up to you which of your photos you put here. As you scroll down past your cover, you'll see your posts, photos and life events as they happened in time. You choose what's featured on your timeline. You can star your favorites to double their size or hide things altogether.

Facebook Timeline now allows you to:

  • Maintain a much more permanent 'landing page' style profile, featuring an enormous, rectangular background image known as your "Cover".  You will want to start looking into the changes now, and begin selecting beautiful images to really highlight your interests and personality.  Here's what my "Cover" looks like:
  • Already, many sources have given us some awesome ideas of how to creatively use this banner in unexpected ways.
  • You can now add specific kinds of life events as permanent markers of your life story.  Everything from already-present options like relationship status, quotes, and friends will remain essentially the same;  however, certain elements, like your home address, will now be displayed in a more dynamic way.  Your home address will be displayed on a map pinpointing exactly where in the world you live, which many users find very startling — although this information has always been available, it's quite a different matter for all your friends to see a visual representation of your neighborhood. Here's my current, and home, town display (note that I have these publicly disabled on my profile, for privacy.  But I trust you, dear blog readers.):
  • Among other life events you may now pepper your profile with: add your birth story/city/year (Yes, the Timeline stretches as far back as you do!); family events/births/marriages populate from your connected family members; add broken bones and injuries, buying property, quitting an addiction, getting a tattoo and many more.  Check out this detail of one of the many categories to choose from.
  • Revisit older posts, to add more detail or commentary
  • See the places you've checked into on Facebook Places (and soon, Gowalla) on a world map
  • "Feature" any story, post, or photo album, which greatly expands the amount of space and detail shown on your profile
  • Many new controls over privacy, including manual lists, automatic lists created based on your actual Facebook activity (close friends, acquaintances, etc) [This feature was unveiled alongside Timeline but rolled out much sooner, likely to compete with Google+].  Check out how I've hidden this probably-offensive post from my Work friends, but made it easily accessible to my college buddies.  All students looking to get jobs after graduating MUST learn to love this feature!  Make your lists now.  It will pay huge dividends in the future.
  • A brand new kind of sharing, dubbed "seamless sharing", via their expanded SocialGraph system, dubbed "OpenGraph".  This allows you to add the music-playing Spotify app to your profile (more on that below), and once authorized, all your friends will be able to see exactly what you're listening to in real-time — including the ability to comment on your song choice, or play the song alongside you directly from their own Facebook news feed!  While the number of apps available immediately with the release is rather small, notably including the Washington Post Social Reader and Words With Friends, this is surely going to be a burgeoning area of developer excitement.  It's even possible for us (Dodge College and/or Chapman University) to develop apps that would share what you post to our forums, or even something as simple as allowing people to click "I graduated!" on our Facebook page, which would cause a specifically tailored message along the lines of "[Student X] has just graduated in [your major] from Dodge College of Media Arts and Chapman University!" with all the appropriate links to your profile, major, college, and university intact in your news feed.  Weird — and neat!
  • The new music feature is really amazing, and definitely my favorite part of the new design.  Check out the display here, and note the play buttons right next to the songs!  (And if you haven't yet, give Kavinsky's "Nightcall" a listen – this is the title theme to the Chapman-produced thriller Drive which came out to stellar reviews earlier this fall)


  • A bevy of other activity settings, to control what apps are displayed, what badges are public, and what parts of your timeline profile are visible to which of your connections.
  • Photo albums have a brand new look, bigger images, clearer event info, and a reduced comments/likes footprint, to truly allow the photos to shine.
  • A new "Activity Log" which shows literally every single thing you do on Facebook, or through Facebook Connect, Facebook Comments, and any OpenGraph enabled webpage or webapp.  Discreet controls for every single story on your profile — this is a bit tedious, but especially for students who like to combine their pre-professional and personal lives, this will help weed out those pictures you wish you hadn't made public back when you were 16.

All in all, this represents a huge change for Facebook users, website and webapp developers, and — Facebook would hope — a major development in the way people share content through social media today.

What do you think of the changes? 

Have you already updated your profile to the new design?  What are the best or most annoying features you've encountered — either on the old profiles, or the new Timeline?  I'd love to hear how students are using this tool to help manage your increasingly social, interconnected lives.

Also, don't forget to connect with Dodge on Facebook, and/or me, personally!