Sorry Facebook, But That Stuff I Share on Your Site is Not the “Story of My Life”



Facebook’s announcements today represent nothing short of a major paradigm shift of how it wants its users to interact with its service and each other. Sure, the new Timeline is pretty to look at, but on the scale of today’s announcements, that’s just a blip on the radar. What really matters is that Facebook now sees its missions are giving you the ability to “curate the story of your life.” Thanks to the new lightweight sharing features announced today, you can now quickly share (and bore your friends with) every article and book you read, every movie you watch on Neflix, every TV show you watch on Hulu, every book you read on your Kindle, every song you play on MOG or Spotify, and every picture of food you take on Foodspotting. Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? Isn’t that “the story of your life?”

What I Share on Facebook Isn’t the Story of My Life – Not Even Close

scrapbook_flickrZuckerberg’s idea is that we will use Facebook to keep track of the “story of our lives.” I can’t help but wonder if that’s not one step too far.

I can see the reasoning here – after all, once you’ve connected everybody, you can’t grow by just adding new users anymore.

The fact that Zuckerberg would even think that users are putting “the story of their lives” on Facebook is just creepy.

If you really feel the need to share everything you do on Facebook and you think that that’s a good representation of your life, you seriously need to get out and try living your life a bit harder. We never share everything, we never want everybody else to know everything we do and often enough, we’d rather forget stuff than keep a precise record of it.

Digital Scrapbooking

Of course, if you are really buying into this idea, you can then relive all those glorious days on your timeline/digital scrapbook later on, or even get a nice graph with all the recipes you cooked in the new Reports feature. It’s all there in a nicely designed “frictionless experience.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I have no interest in using Facebook as a repository for all this superfluous data. A picture or two from my vacations is good enough – I don’t need to keep track of every recipe I cooked, every road I drove on and every morning run. Just like I wouldn’t be interested in offline scrapbooking, I have no interest in cataloging my past exploits on Facebook either.

It’s not just the data I might collect on Facebook (I doubt I will). I’d rather, for example, see my friends make very deliberate choices when they share something with me – not the one-click-and-forget kind of sharing Facebook seems to have in mind.

While Facebook is hyping the potential serendipitous discovery that this new system could allow for, my feeling is that this will just add more noise and very little value in the long run.


Image Credit: Flickr user Dean Michaud.

8:42 pm

Facebook Announces Major Changes at F8: Here Are All the Announcements


Facebook kicked off its F8 developer conference with a large number of product announcements by the company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives and developers today. Here is a rundown of all the major announcements.

New From Facebook: Timeline, Music Apps, Lightweight Status Updates

As Zuckerberg noted at the beginning of his keynote, the early years of social networking were about getting people signed up and connecting them. According to him, the next era of social network is about social apps and other products that these connections make possible. To do so, Facebook introduced new ways to share more lightweight updates and also announced a completely redesigned profile page today. Instead of just “linking” content, Facebook is shifting more towards sharing everything you do. Apps can now automatically share everything you do in them automatically to Facebook – assuming you allow them to do so.

Judging from today’s announcements, Facebook really, really wants you to share everything you do – and by making more and more of these updates automatic (like the songs you listen to on Spotify), it will soon be aggregating far more information about its users than ever before. It remains to be seen how its users will react to this.

  • Timeline: Timeline is, according to Zuckerberg, “the story of your life.” Timeline is basically a wider, more visual version of your old profile. It will give users access to all of their apps, stories and a better way to express “who you are.” Split into multiple columns, the timeline basically shows all of your updates in one place and on an endlessly scrolling page. Timeline will also be available for mobile devices. Timeline will be in beta for a while. Developers will get access today and everybody else can sign up for it today. Facebook hopes to roll it out to all users over the “next few weeks.”

    For Facebook, the timelines is all about giving people a way to tell “the story of their lives.” It’s somewhat similar to the old wall, but with a stronger focus on all the important things you did in the past. As you go back in time, Facebook will summarize more of your events, though it’s not quite clear how the company decides which events were really important to you in the past.More from Zuckerberg: “People feel an intense ownership over their profile. Millions of people have spent a ton of time telling the story of their life on their profile. Timeline is an important next step in telling the story of your life.”
  • Reports: instead of just showing you everything you have done, these new reports will summarize how you use apps over time (think reports for your RunKeep updates).
  • Next Version of OpenGraph and a New Class of Apps: “Connect to anything in any way you want.” With the new lightweight sharing feature, Facebook wants to give its users the ability to share more things without annoying their friends by putting all of these updates in their newsfeed. All your media, news and book updates from web and mobile apps will go into the recently launched ticker feature but not into the newsfeed. This new class of apps will also automatically share your updates to the ticker without prompting you to share things every time it does so.
    • Music/Movies: Facebook has partnered with a number of music and online video companies to allow users to listen to music and watch movies together on Facebook. Among these are Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, Rhapsody,, MOG and others. Thanks to the new lightweight updates, you can now see what your friends are watching or listening to right now.
      The fundamental shift  these updates really show best is the move from just “liking” things to participating in events together.
    • Social News Apps: besides these media companies, Facebook also partnered with publishers like the Guardian, digg, The Daily, Slate, TPM, Yahoo, Flipboard and others to allow their users to easily share everything they read in their respective Facebook apps. One interesting announcement here is that The Daily, which until now was an iPad-only publication, is bringing its app to Facebook.
    • Social Games: Unsurprisingly, Facebook game developers will also be able to hook into these lightweight updates that will automatically push content to the ticker.
    • Lifestyle Apps: Facebook worked with companies like AirBnB, Byliner, Color, Foodspotting and others to bring lifestyle updates to the ticker as well. This means you can now share every recipe you cooked from your favorite recipe app automatically to Facebook and then see everything you cooked in your Timeline and the new reports feature later on.[/list]

4:56 pm

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook Doesn't Acquire Companies for the Products but for the People


startup_school_logoFacebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg just told a group of aspiring entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s Startup School that he expects to invest most of the money Facebook is currently making back into the business. According to him, it currently “doesn’t make sense to make a massive profit,” as Facebook is already able to provide the necessary incentives to keep and motivate its employees.

Asked about Facebook’s recent acquisitions, Zuckerberg noted that Facebook never acquired a company just for the product but for the people. He wants Facebook to have a very entrepreneurial culture and one of the ways for the company to do this is to acquire companies with great founders. These new employees, including FriendFeed‘s Bret Taylor, according to Zuckerberg, often end up working on products that are extensions of their startups.

Facebook’s Early Days

Talking about the mistakes he made, Zuckerberg noted that the mistakes the made while architecting the earliest versions of Facebook, including FMBL, are still bugging the company down sometimes. He also noted, however, that starting a web service in the early days was a lot easier than today. Now, with multiple mobile platforms competing for users attention, it has gotten more important for developers to create services that can be easily replicated on numerous platforms.

zuckerberg_ycombAsked about the early days of Facebook Zuckerberg also talked about his early experiences in Silicon Valley. According to him, his thought at the time was to see what it would feel like to be there, especially if he ever wanted to actually build a startup. As Facebook was already growing rapidly at the time, he – and some of his co-founders – decided to take the next semester off as Facebook was already using a data center in California.

Asked if he would move his company to the Silicon Valley again, Zuckerberg noted how the Valley offers new companies all the necessary services. He also pointed out that the Valley is very “short-term focused” and insular, but the fact that the infrastructure allows startups to quickly get of the ground makes it the ideal place to start a new business according to him.

During the interview, Zuckerberg also talked about his parents reaction to his decision to drop out. His mother, apparently, told him that she always expected him to drop out and his sister had a bet with him that she would finish college before he did.

The Social Network

In addition, he also took a few jabs at the “Social Network,” the fictionalized account of the early days of Facebook. While he noted that the movie got all of his shirts right, he noted that the general theme of the movie was simply wrong. He did not, for example, get the motivation to build Facebook from a breakup, but because he simply enjoyed building things. Taking a jab at the film industry, he noted that it is apparently hard for Hollywood to understand that sometimes “people just build things because they like to build stuff.” Clearly, Zuckerberg has decided to embrace the fact that the movie has pushed his celebrity status to a new level and throughout the interview, he seemed surprisingly comfortable talking about it.

What About China?

Currently, Facebook is planning to expand in Japan, South Korea and Russia, but China is clearly still a major issue for Facebook. Zuckerberg noted that he doesn’t want “Facebook to be an American company” and that the company has to follow the laws of all the company it is entering and be “culturally sensitive”. He noted that while the U.S. (and Facebook) has a certain standard for free speech, Facebook users can’t post Nazi content on Facebook in Germany. Zuckerberg himself is currently learning Chinese to understand the language and culture. How, he asked, can you want to connect the whole world if you leave out China?

4:54 pm