Around the start of summer, Facebook brass kept commenting about a “something awesome” that would soon be unveiled. Well, as of yesterday everybody knows what the social network’s most awe-inspiring launch to date is: the FB Timeline. It seemed media watchers couldn’t keep pace with the torrent of positive feelings and thoughts that were too awkwardly lurching their way to their keyboards and screens.
Nevertheless, amid all the high-fiving and heart-felt hurrahs, some couldn’t help spelling out a few apprehensions about Timeline. At AllthingsD, Kara Swisher wrote about the “creepy” factor of a “cradle to grave” online profile/existence. She also ruminated about the consequences of having a detailed visualization of one’s entire existence available for self- and public-scrutiny throughout the extent of one’s life, and even beyond it.
Most of the rather mild backlash centers around Facebook’s unexamined aim to provoke ever greater sharing from its users. With Timeline, FB users will be updating friends in real time about such ordinarily minor things as listening to a song or watching a TV show. Taken instance by instance, the action is minor, but the accumulated storing, over time, of every such action is something major — for users, for Facebook, and for advertisers.
Besides the perhaps steeper-than-thought fee that Facebook may be extracting from its “free” service, writer Maura Johnston also griped (a little) about the complexities of tying up “technology” with “persona.”