So now we know. Timelines are the big deal that Facebook announced today. It’s basically an online scrapbook of your life, called Timelines:
But will it replace scrapbooks? A few years ago, my mother surprised me at Christmas with a scrapbook she made of my life. Sure, it had pictures — the kind you got when you picked them up at the photo store a week after you dropped off the film. It also had a postcard I sent to my grandmother in Florida (announcing some new chickens has laid eggs), a letter I sent to the editor of the local newspaper at age 12 warning against pollution (I grew up in a mill town; there’s no pollution anymore because all the mills have closed), the program at my high school graduation. In other words, a lot of non-digital items that withstand archiving in the digital age.
There’s another aspect of an online timeline/scrapbook: You’re more likely to actually “scrapbook” your life in a more honest way if you know that people aren’t likely to see it until, perhaps, you’re gone. Throw something up online, and you’re probably going to sanitize it so it looks more like the Christmas letters people send you every year, the ones that edit out real life.
Some analysts think this presents a problem for Google. “What does the new Facebook mean to Google?” someone asked via Twitter a short whilte ago. “Google knows our search and browsing history, but Facebook is going to know OUR history.”
But which is likely to reveal the real you, the history you post via a Timeline, or the you you reveal by revealing it Google through searches and other activities?
I’m anxious to see everyone’s Timeline to see if I have the same reaction as when I open those letters.