Facebook launched their new timeline feature yesterday, and even before the announcement was made insiders were touting it as the biggest change to Facebook since, well, Facebook happened. I was skeptical, until they showed the Timeline video. The concept is so simple, yet so perfect.
I am sure others will be able to better express the importance of this change from a business perspective; raising the cost of leaving Facebook, the marketing potential, the ability for self promotion. Really, just imagine the viral marketing potential, being able to complete entire backgrounds on movie or television characters, presented as a real person. I’m excited to see these campaigns, I’m sure they’ll be great, I’d like to try some things myself, but where this new tool really shines is the personal level.
Scrolling through your timeline feels like turning the pages of a scrapbook, but one where your friends and your past self can reach out to you.
Admittedly, the effect is much stronger if you haven’t filled your page with Farmville invites, and for the scrapbook element to really work you need a solid history of photos.
If, like me, you’ve had your Facebook account since high school then scrolling through the early years feels like looking through an old year book or photo album and finding old notes, once passed in class, stuffed between the pages.
The timeline on your profile won’t show every little thing you did, and thank goodness, because that would be a mess, but if you go through the Activity Log then you can see every old wall post, photo comment and your own status updates.
I love it.
I found comments from old friends about a party long forgotten, pictures I forgot I had in that hidden from public view album, and notes from myself.
I went through a tough time when I started University. My best friend died four days before my first semester started. I had never lost anyone close to me, and despite all outward appearances I did not handle it well. Sometimes when the pain comes up unexpectedly I am amazed that I ever got through it.
Timeline takes me back there.
I can go through old wall posts my friend left me, comments she wrote on photos, or a message on my 18th birthday. It’s like getting a hug from four years in the past.
By reading old statuses I can remember how I felt then, and I can see how my posts slowly grew happier. I can see the first time I let myself take her initials off my posts. I can look through photos and watch fake smiles become real ones. It’s a reminder that I was hurt, but that I got past it. It reminds me that no matter how bad I feel today, I’ve felt worse, and I made it through.
The video at F8 explaining Timeline immediately brought to mind “The Wheel” the first season finale of Mad Men. Don is pitching Kodak’s new Carousal slide projector and he makes beautiful use of nostalgia to do it.
The executives in the scene are speechless, as is the audience at home.
Using Timeline has given me that same experience. I can choose to share it with the world, or I can hide it and keep it for myself. An online collection of notes and pictures that take me back in time then lets me see how far I’ve come.
“Nostalgia—it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels—around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.”