There are quite a few interesting takeaway points from facebook’s f8 conference yesterday – the most interesting being their change to the layout of feeds/timelines and their link ups with content partners from the music, television, and film industries.
Notably, rather than attempting to create its own music or tv/film streaming services, Facebook has partnered with the leading providers in each category, as well as some of their competitors – most importantly Spotify, Hulu, and Netflix. These services are going to be tightly integrated into Facebook’s new timeline, so users can see what their friends are listening to and then hear that song themselves through Spotify, or see what their friends are watching and watch that tv show episode or film through Hulu or Netflix. They are offering the virtual digital version of popping round to a friend’s house and hearing the music they’re playing, or sit down and watch a film with them on TV. This could be a great way to discover new music, films, and tv shows that you may otherwise have ignored.
It is an interesting prospect to be able to see exactly which bands and films your friends are actually into, but the question remains: Will users be happy to share this information? The music, films, books, etc that people list as liking on their Facebook profiles may be their favourites, but often they are the titles and bands that people want other people to think that they like. Some people are truthful on their Facebook profiles, but most show off an edit version of themselves – the version they want people to think they are. Where this integration falls down, then, could be that people might not want everyone to know that they have a soft spot for the Backstreet Boys back catalogue, or make an evening to sit down and watch Cougar Town.
I’m sure Facebook will offer setting where users can turn off sharing for certain things, but once people have turned of their sharing as they want to sit and watch Sex and the City 2 in secret – how likely are they to turn it back on? These sharing functions are great for finding out what your friends are watching/listening to – but how many people want everyone to know their own choices? We all have guilty pleasures – and how much that will reduce the impact of these features is up for debate.
The other major change coming from the f8 event is the new Facebook timeline – allowing people to see what their friends have been up to not just over the last day or two, but over the last week, month, year, and beyond – a timeline of your digital life. There’s integration with Facebook Places to show where you’ve been, and Facebook has managed to organise a good proportion of the data it holds on you in a very usable manner. The staggering amount of detail we all regularly share about are lives is there in the cold light of day – something which is pretty jarring when you first see it – and yes this is a stalker’s wet dream – but above all it is a very interesting move from Facebook by showing its true colours as the central focal point for your digital life.
[image courtesy of pshab]