Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook introduces its "personalized newspaper", called Timeline. What's a "top story"?

There’s a lot of flak out there about Facebook’s additional changes today. Facebook says it will try to make your news feed into a personalized online newspaper, by putting the “top stories” first when you log on. It probably would affect users who log on less frequently more.

Here is Facebook’s own explanation, "Interesting News Anytime You Visit". 

The (trademarked?) buzzword to describe the concept seems to be “TimeLine” (replacing the Profile), but it seems as though Facebook Timelines are out-of-sequence, like dreams in “Inception”.  However, Facebook expects the Timeline to be able to show you your own "Tree of Life", connecting everything related to you it has. 

Now, as I’ve said, I’m not so keen about a third party “ruling the World” deciding what is most important to me.  Still, if a tornado is approaching my area and I find out about it from Facebook first, that’s fine. As I’ve noted before, I’m, at age 68 (the same as National’s Manager Davey Johnson) not so keen about grading my friends in public as to who is “closest” (or as to who I want sitting next to me in a dugout as a particularly hairy-chested pinch hitter – if you remember Johnson’s comment after a particular Nats’ walkoff win).
There are other ways to garner “important” personalized news.  Following Next Blog on Google sort of can do that.  And AOL, MSN, and CNN all group their news stories so you can sort them quickly when you visit their sites.  I suppose Adrianna Huffington could opine on how to decide what is “top news”, even when personalized.

ABC News has a detailed story on Timeline, and indicates that SNL star Andy Samberg (but not Jesse Eisenberg) helped with the presentation, link. Zuckerberg was pretty impressive himself on SNL last January.  (How about Taylor Lautner on SNL?)

Here is Wilson Rothman’s story on MSNBC, “this is your life”, link here

MSNBC is offering a “Short Film by Mark Zuckerberg” (37 minutes), where he gives a "functional decomposition" of Timeline. Maybe it belongs on my Movies blog.

I tried a post on Facebook a while ago -- about a generically important topic -- the effects on the floods of a couple weeks ago on a Maryland town (Ellicott City). It got marked as a top story. But I didn't need an announcement that the sister of someone I don't really know is going into labor to jump as a top story. 

If the Nationals sweep the Phillies tonight “On The Road”, that deserves to be a Facebook Top News story.

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