New Facebook Changes – A Laymans Summary

More as a way to summarise the updates for myself, here is a review of the changes announced by team Zuckerburg yesterday. There appear to be two sides to the changes – on the one hand we have the changes that ‘Joe Blogs Facebook user’ will care about and on the other, the new Open Graph API that (Facebook hope) will have developers drooling over and will deliver “real time serendipity”.

Facebook themselves split the changes in to three; Your Cover, Your Stories & Your Apps.

Your Cover – Is the header to the new ‘Timeline’ profile that features a main, banner like photo that Facebook say should ‘represent you best’.

 Underneath your header there will now be an area all about YOU called ‘Your Stories’. This section of a users Timeline will detail photos, posts, videos and anything else that may tell people about who you are, what you do and what you’re about.

‘Your Apps’ will be at the lower end of your Timeline. This is the part that Facebook were perhaps the most excited about. Basically Facebook will now be partnering with any service that they might be able to connect with Facebook allowing your Timeline you be an interest aggregator. Users can add the Spotify app for example which will allow your Facebook friends to see which tracks you have listened to.

A whole host of new apps will be introduced including ones from news sources like The Guardian and The Independent, online video and TV streaming  through Netflix or Hulu and other music apps such as Mixcloud and Soundcloud.

Open Graph

Developers will now be able to tap in to Facebook in ways that weren’t possible before using the updated Open Graph API. As Facebook say on this new way of working “The opportunities are endless, such as building an app for runners to share their routes and achievements, photographers to feature the photos they take, and music lovers to share their playlists and top albums with friends. Develop Open Graph apps that will make Timeline the personal, expressive page we believe it can be.”

The new developer options will be based around what Facebook call a Graph Rank which will give prominence in news feeds to apps that users find engaging. New app analytics will allow developers to monitor their apps activity and so optimise apps for an increased Graph Rank.

Conclusion:

I don’t think all these changes amount to the world changing, redefinition of social networking that sites such as Mashable would have had us believe in the pre-launch hype.

Most people use Facebook as either a simple communication tool, whether through comments, FB messages or FB chat. They like to look at other folks photos or if they have a bit of time to spare, flick down through the most recent status updates. But how often does one visit another user’s profile page? Are you really bothered about going to someone else’s ‘Timeline’ to find out all about them? Or they use it to have a nosey at other user’s pictures…

Facebook is basing its latest direction on the assumption that users will become content creaters. It’s going to take a long time to get your timeline looking good. You;re going to have to choose which photo’s best portray you (or how you’d like to be perceived). You need to opt in to each of the apps you want to interact with and feed your profile with regular ‘stories’ about what you’re doing.

Maybe this is exactly what people have been waiting for…however I fear it might lead to a graveyard of features and apps and half completed Timelines. We’ll see. Once i’ve been able to have a proper play with it then the new Facebook’s usefulness may become clearer.

I think the top two comments on Facebook’s own blog sum up the divide in opinion perfectly…

Looks like the comment ‘the world changes, get used to it’ has proved the most popular with Facebookers.

Here’s a video that Robert Scoble took from the front row of the Faceboook F8 presentation

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