Facebook announced the Timeline which allowed you to view your social history. As it rolled out, you saw what you posted or commented on by month or year. You could look fondly at the playful online banter between you and a crush, the evolution of your relationships, where you went and who you were with on the roller coaster that is your life. What if you were an anthropologist and you were looking at 21st century society? Could you find evidence of how we lived through Facebook or Twitter timelines through checkins, blog posts, pictures, and comments to reveal your personality or mood of the day?
Social Anthropology studies how contemporary human beings behave in social groups. Has Facebook made it easier for anthropologists to draw conclusions about modern society through the Timeline?
I thought it fascinating that you could highlight particular events and for non-scrapbookers an easy way to get a time capsule of each year on Facebook. I would buy a hardcover copy of my timeline or a combination of family/friends as gifts (business opportunity…who’s in?). The good times, the drama, the healing and sometimes reconnecting. On the one hand, it could aggregate a lot of great memories if you only share happy times. For some, it could lead to drama and heartbreak as you view your significant other’s flighty behavior. Note: To avoid this, don’t friend anyone you are dating, keep a portion of your life private. Otherwise, what will you talk about if you’re busy stalking each other on-line?
As an “oversharer” on multiple networks, including various blogs, you could see where I’ve traveled, eaten, worked, seen my naked thoughts as I chatted publicly and form a decent dossier without any effort. What picture would your timeline create of you? Will it be an accurate reflection of your real life, emotions and experiences? Will it be a more glamourous version of your life? Would you be happy with what you see? Is there anything you would change? Would you spend time deleting stuff from your profile to create the right persona?
For a short time, you were able to view who has unfriended you by looking at your friends in a particular year and seeing who has the Add Friend button. This “bug” has since been removed. Would you check to see which friends you’ve lost over the years? Would you want to reconnect with some of them?
I wonder how startups like Glos.si or Momento will evolve as products because of the Timeline announcement. I like the idea of that these two aggregate from various networks. I also wonder what social anthropologists will conclude if they use all of what we share freely on the web. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.