Timeline On My Hands

3 04 2012

Nothing is more likely to get everyone stirred up than yet another change in Facebook. Last September, mark Zuckerberg rattled everyone’s cages when he announced the launch of Timeline, a new feature in which both individual users and companies would be able to treat their page as “the story of your life.” Naturally, the social graph flew into a tizzy.

Timeline has been slow in coming. At first, only developers could get their hands on it. In December, Timeline was made available to those who wanted ti. Within the last month, Timeline was opened up for company and organizational pages.

And last Friday those companies and organizations faced mandatory migrations to Timeline. Let the complaining begin all over again.

While individuals still have an unspecified transition time, they, too, will all face this latest Facebook formatting. And to be honest, I cannot understand what’s not to like about it. Especially companies and organizations.

Take, for example, the screenshot at left from New Belgium Brewing Co. Today is the day their new beer, Shift, is being launched. They have leveraged Timeline to the hilt by showcasing blurbs and pics of 16 oz. cans whirring down the line (no doubt working up viewer thirst in the process).

The nice thing about Timeline is that companies (and individuals) can use it to create a linear record of anything improtant. Critics have bellyached about the two-column spread, saying it is too difficult to read, and uncertainties over which column they should be following.

But users should be focusing on the columns. Instead, they should be concentrating on the pale blue vertical line in the gutter between them, for this is the Timeline. The dots and corresponding pointers to the left or right are all placed in sequence of posting. Furthermore, by simply clicking the Timeline at any place, users can easily back-fill a new post after the fact.

While individuals may find this helpful for doing a little post-editing of their lives (wedding dates, graduations, etc., as well as that company picnic you would like everyone to know you attended), companies will no doubt find this to be an invaluable way of showcasing the firm’s illustrious history.

You know…things like: product introductions, awards won, new markets announced. You name it. Timeline becomes a virtual company history book, complete with pics and video as needed.

Of course, there is always room for a little revisionist history. Lowe’s did this not too long ago after the brouhaha erupted following their decision to pull ads from All-American Muslim. Their decision produced a firestorm of negativity on Facebook, so Lowe’s reacted quickly: they just wiped the record clean. “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now!”

I am not sure what the right answer is here, because deleting comments is akin to saying they just wish the whole matter would go away; keeping everything online, though, serves as a reminder of the problem in the first place.

I suppose the broader message is to simply use social media responsibly, and try to not let things get out of hand.

But as for Timeline, this now offers all of us, from individual users to companies and organizations, the opportunity to chronicle everything of relevance. We are the curators of our personal and corporate lives, and we can showcase how much or how little we want known.

And as readers connect those little dots on the Timeline, the stories of our lives will become a little clearer for everyone to read. Now if I can just find a can of Shift around Amarillo. It’s been awfully hot outside lately.

Dr “Can Do” Gerlich

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