Facebook has a reputation for continuously changing the way its users interact with the site, adding new features and restructuring the interface constantly. Recently at the F8 Developers Conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced a serious shift in the Open Graph platform, with the addition or reinvention of several major areas of the site.
The addition of the Ticker helps keep users’ News Feeds clear from information overload while still allowing them to see what their friends are doing. The Timeline, which will be rolled out in the next few weeks, will replace users’ profile pages, making it easier to see both past content and major milestones and allowing users to supply additional information as they desire. The new Gestures features will add depth and diversity to the spectrum of possible reactions and interactions of users with content on Facebook and the web at large. Open Graph underpins all of these features, enabling everything from simpler iphone app development to tighter content integration within Facebook’s own app platform.
Facebook has removed interactions it calls “lightweight” from the News Feed and placed them in the new Ticker in the hopes that it will prompt more people to post and comment on content. Some users seem to shy away from posting a lot of content to the site because they’re afraid of overcrowding their friends’ News feeds, but the Ticker eliminates that concern by placing comments and app activities into a scrolling, real time feed that’s easily ignored but also easily monitored and used.
The latest version of users’ profile pages, Timeline, was unveiled at the conference and has been widely embraced, at least in theory. If the first iteration of Facebook user profiles were the first five minutes of a conversation, the Timeline would be the next several hours. It shows a broader view of a user’s history, letting less important events drop off while highlighting major things from each person’s life. Users can (and are encouraged to) go back through their Timeline and add important events, photos or links to give their friends a more complete picture of their lives.
In the past, users have been forced to use a single type of interaction, the “Like”, to communicate their feelings on a subject or piece of content. Now, however, developers have the ability to add new actionable items to their content, like a “Read” option for a blog or a “Hiked” option for a park trail. In the past, users didn’t have a way to frame their interactions, but that’s going to change drastically when developers start building new Gestures into their Facebook apps and websites.