I believe it was Orwell who said, "He who controls the past controls the future." Well, now we finally know who "he" is: Mark Zuckerberg.
Last week, the world's youngest billionaire CEO unveiled a dramatic new look for Facebook, ripping up the old interface in favor of something called Timeline.
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Timeline is essentially about Facebooking your entire life, from birth unto death, in words, photos, videos, and pointless status updates. It is Facebook's attempt to get you hooked and never let you go, to keep you on Facebook 24/7 except maybe for potty breaks. (Even then, the company wants you to bring it into the toilet on your iPad.) Imagine one of those slideshows they used to present at wedding receptions, depicting the bride and groom from childhood through the blessed event, only this one never ends -- ever.
Facebook product wrangler/Scotch slinger Sam Lessin, one of the key people behind the creation of Timeline, called the old Facebook profile "the single biggest lost opportunity in the history of human story telling" -- skipping right over the unfinished novels of Austin, Melville, Fitzgerald, Capote, and Jacqueline Susann -- but no more, now that Timeline is upon us. (Methinks someone's been spending too much time in the Hyberbolic Chamber.)
Naturally, the social media mafia were drooling all over themselves. This post from Mashable's Ben Parr was possibly the most gag-inducing:
The changes Facebook will roll out ... are designed to enhance the emotional connection its users have to each other through Facebook. These changes will make Facebook a place where nearly everything in your life is enhanced by your social graph. These changes will make it so you know your friends better than you ever thought you could.
On Thursday, developers will be elated, users will be shellshocked and the competition will look ancient. On Thursday, Facebook will be reborn. Prepare yourselves for the evolution of social networking.
But everything wasn't coming up roses and daffodils on the blogosphere.
The geeks at Buzzfeed almost immediately found a privacy flaw (quelle surprise!) that allowed Timeline users to go back and figure out which of their alleged friends had quietly unfriended them. (Facebook has since fixed that bug.)
The exceedingly droll Chris Davies of SlashGear says Timeline is perfect for those self-obsessed narcissists that ooze across the Web like snails after a rainstorm. The rest of us? Not so much.
Look. You're a special person. Really special. And I like you a lot. But I'm not particularly interested in browsing through my own baby photos, nor my partner's, and unsurprisingly that means I'm really falling short when it comes to enthusiasm about seeing yours.
Dan Lyons (the satirist formerly known as Fake Steve Jobs) maxed out his yearly budget for sarcasm with this post:
And all of the rest of the world seems shabby and dull and boring and ancient -- just as Mashable predicted. Google, poor old Google, looks like a**. My brand-new MacBook Air, which only last week gave me joy unlike anything I'd ever felt in my life, now sits on my desk, just a dead, lifeless hunk of brushed aluminum. Everything, in fact, has lost its color. I go outside and stand in the yard and gaze up at the sky and I say, Why? Why, sky? Why do you look like s***? You look just the same as ever, just blue sky and white clouds. Why can't you change the way Facebook changes?
The eSarcasm staff predicts that Timeline will be combined with time travel, allowing Facebook members to dive back into the past to comment on updates before they've even appeared. That one I actually believe.
My take on Timeline? I don't know; Facebook hasn't deigned to open that feature up to me yet. But as Chris Davies notes, even I'm not sure I find my life that fascinating; why would a stranger?
Have you got Facebook Timeline yet and if so, has your life been profoundly changed? Weigh in below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "Facebook Timeline: A narcissist's dream come true," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.