f8 Conference Recap

Last week, Facebook held its annual 'f8 Conference' to give the public an idea of what they need to expect out of the website.  This comes in the heat of what many are considering the worst change of Facebook.  In fact, many friends are threatening to move to Google+ as if it is the New Canada for everything they dislike in America.  But what changes are we going to actually see?  And how much speculation is running around?  Are we going to have to start paying for services? (Spoiler alert: No.)  And is Google+ an easy cop-out?  Let me recap the conference and you can decide for yourself...

Off the bat, I knew I was going to be sitting through a technology filled speech.  Andy Samberg from SNL started the show impersonating Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, with very watered down jokes compared to his normal routine. The humor was a bit dry, and the only part that made an audible laugh, for me, was when a picture of Beast, Mark's dog, was put up that depicted him as a rap king.  But things went South, quick, when the real M.Z. took the stage.  It reminded me of when I had to do a skit for government class, but everything seemed so funny that half the skit was me giggling and red in the face, and the other half was me talking like a robotic version of Bill from his Excellent Adventure.

 
Mini Feeds are 'Most Excellent'!


Once the gun smoke settled, and Andy left the stage in the same way most high schoolers end a poorly edited video project, we could finally get down to business to see what Facebook had up its sleeves.  The Ace in the Hole?  "Timeline".

Timeline is meant to be your life in a nutshell on Facebook.  It chronicles your whole life through photos, videos, and important posts.  From the first time you went to the Grand Canyon or the last time you ate at Uncle Joe's Taco-ria, the Timeline is designed to revolutionize the way we view our profiles.  What Mark found special in Timeline is how different people's Timelines 'feel'.  A drummer of a band will have a very strong musical presence.  A world traveler will have photos from their many voyages.  And budding artists can display the growth of their works and styles.  My feeling is that most users friend lists are limited in the number of archetypes shown at the conference.  That doesn't mean they won't get important 'Timeline' updates from their other friends, though...

 "My first day of college!"
I am pretty sure the biggest problem most people will face in regards to the Timeline is how they will handle their past relationships.   Do they just pretend like they never happened as to not shake the beehive?  I'm sure George Orwell would love that!  Or do you add all the details of what you and an ex did while you dated and hope your current girlfriend does not mind?  Let's hope Mark Z already has a built in fail safe for this scenario.  The last thing we need is for 'Timeline' to be called in during a divorce case.

Wonder who gets to keep the Farmville credits.


The next big thing that Mark Z rolled out was a completely new 'Class of Apps'.  In 2007, Facebook began the 'Open Graph'.  This took what was originally just the relationship of friends and made it about the relationships of the whole World.  Their first step was the 'Like' Button.  Now, they are taking the next step.  If you can think it, you can connect to it.  So, instead of 'Liking' a book, you can 'Read' a book.  Or, instead of 'Liking' a movie, you can 'Watch' a movie.  It makes the news feed more enjoyable and engages more interaction.  So, where before, people had to 'Like' the page that was against the new Facebook, users can easily just 'Hate' this upgraded format.  Any activity that is done in this new Open Graph will be displayed in the Ticker that is located in the top right of the Home Page.  It is designed to not annoy your friends and contain all of the light weight feed.  Now I know where to look out for my friends who need my help knocking off a mob boss in Mafia Wars.

"Why didn't you wish 13 of your friends a 'Happy Birthday'?"

But with all this Open Graph talk, where is Facebook really heading?  Well, those Apps that Mark was talking about applies to well more than just 'Dropping' a Deuce.  Apps are the new wave of the Facebook website.  The belief is that all Apps will become social.  Right now, there are already social apps for communication and games.  But on the other hand, there are very private items like medical information where apps are not very social.  So FB is heading in a new direction, but slowly.  The first wave of apps will be geared towards media.  Movies, music, tv, and books, among others, will have open graph apps that will connect one another (like 'Sleeping' in Class, or any other combination of 'Verbing' a 'Noun').  Past that, though, will be lifestyle social apps.  Your fashion, your cooking, your anything.  That is the money maker for Z-berg.  This does include filling out the Timeline, but the other is to discover things organically through your friends.  There IS a pro, though.  Instead of having to add apps and continually having to 'publish' it to your mini feed every time you want to do something with it, now you will be able to add it once, and have a 'frictionless' experience with it.  The goal is to have a fluid experience on Facebook rather than having to keep publishing everything you do to your friends.


The Ticker in the top left is important, actually, because as Users continue to 'Listen' to a new song, it will show in the Ticker and will not clog your mini-feed.  This shows a 'Real Time Serendipity' to help you discover new music, videos, and anything else due to this Open Graph.  And with that, we get a solid mini feed with pertinent and cool information, and a running Ticker that will help us glance at light weight activity while discovering new media, posts, comments, and pics.

In conclusion, I feel that the 'New' Facebook is actually a better step in the right direction when it comes to their openly admitted mistakes of how the mini feed became cluttered.  Where does Google fair in all of this?  Google Plus is still in its infant stages.  Their use of 'Circles' is great in that you have better control over who sees what, but there is not enough to keep anyone from staying on the site.  Facebook is too strong and too large to just switch over.  Everyone's friends, thousands of pictures, and hundreds of inside jokes are still on Facebook.  Leaving that all behind would be near impossible.

Well, almost impossible....

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