Facebook F8 Conference: Mark Zuckerberg Unveils ‘Timeline’ [Video]

Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced a new Timeline-based profile for users’ chat histories, at its F8 developer conference.

Facebook has radically redesigned its profile page, launching ‘Timeline’, a new way of telling the story of your life on a single page, and will now allow users to listen to music, watch films and read news without leaving the site. ‘Timeline’ feature will be rolled out over the next “few weeks”.

The f8 keynote began with actor/comedian Andy Samberg  taking the stage and hamming it up as Zuckerberg until the real Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, came on to address the Facebook faithful. And faithful the platform’s users are.

Mark Zuckerberg, the real Zuck (not Andy Samberg), said: “By now, I think most people see that social networks will be a ubiquitous tool that people will use every day to stay connected,” Zuckerberg said. “Last week in a single day, we had half a billion people share on Facebook for the first time.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address during the Facebook f8 conference on September 22, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the conference introducing a Timeline feature to the popular social network. Photo: Facebook

But although Facebook has had a lot of success, with the social-media site the way it is currently, the next era of sharing on Facebook will be defined by apps, Mr. Zuckerberg said in his F8 keynote.

“For every major evolution we’ve done at Facebook, the profile is at the center,” the Facebook CEO said. “It’s a really personal product, and our job is to make this product the best way for you to share everything you want.”

Timeline will make Facebook’s profile page a historical record of sorts of what has been shared by a user and deemed most important by that user, he said.

“We often talk about the profile at Facebook as what you talk with someone about during the first five minutes of talking with someone,” Zuckerberg said. “If the original profile was the first five minutes of a conversation, the stream was the first 15, now I want to show you the rest.”

“When you think about all of the stuff that is on Facebook, about 99 percent of it isn’t on your profile page,” said Chris Chris Cox, Facebook’s Vice President of Product. He added the company worked on the Timeline project for about a year. Photo: Facebook

Timeline, he said, has been a project of Facebook’s for about a year. “Timeline is the story of your life, and it has three pieces, all your stories, all your apps, in a new way to express who you are.”

Using his own profile to demonstrate the new timeline, Mr Zuckerberg showed photos of himself as a baby which he has inserted into the new profile page which is organised by years.

The new design has a horizontal picture up top, called the “cover photo,” that users can choose to show what they’re interested in or passionate about. The profile picture sits below that.

“You can use your cover to express a unique moment in your life, something you’re interested in,” he said.

The first thing users will notice is how much more visual Timeline makes a profile, Zuckerberg said.

Timeline might remind users a bit of a Tumblr blog, with photos, wall posts, links and apps of varying shapes and sizes, all in chronological order.

“You have complete control of your timeline,” he said. “You can control what’s on there and you can control who sees what’s on there,” much like current wall posts, which can be shared with all friends, the public or specific friends’ lists.

“The biggest challenge that we had designing Timeline was figuring out a way to tell all the important stories of your life on a single page,” Zuckerberg said. “It summarizes the past for you but allows you to add important moments in your timeline as well.”

Facebook also introduced a new beta version of Open Graph. “The Open Graph is the most significant update to Platform since it launched in 2007, expanding the capabilities and opportunities for social applications, from music to TV to news to lifestyle applications such as cooking, fitness and travel,” said Bret Taylor, chief technology officer at Facebook.

Application discovery is an important part of the Open Graph philosophy, he added. The structure of Open Graph enables applications to grow more quickly based on usage. “The more engaging your app is, the more people will discover it on Facebook,” he said.

A description of the Open Graph Protocol on the Facebook site reads: “The Open Graph Protocol enables you to integrate your Web pages into the social graph. It is currently designed for Web pages representing profiles of real-world things – things like movies, sports teams, celebrities, and restaurants. Including Open Graph tags on your Web page, makes your page equivalent to a Facebook page.

“This means when a user clicks a Like button on your page, a connection is made between your page and the user. Your page will appear in the “Likes and Interests” section of the user’s profile, and you have the ability to publish updates to the user.”

“Your page will show up in the same places that Facebook pages show up around the site (e.g., search), and you can target ads to people who like your content. The structured data you provide via the Open Graph Protocol defines how your page will be represented on Facebook,” it sates.

The Open Graph Beta is now available to all Facebook developers. “This beta gives you access to the docs and tools you need to add Open Graph actions and objects to your app,” Taylor said.

Facebook also introduced new analytics for developers. “From the Dev App, you will be able to see analytics for all the Open Graph activity published by your app,” Taylor said. “You will be able to optimise your app’s Graph Rank based on this information.”

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