Why Facebook shouldn't replace the Wall with Timeline

The other day on Facebook, I was visiting a friend's new Timeline and came across an interesting comment:

"Timeline makes Facebook SO confusing. It takes me back to Myspace days."

I mulled over that comment for a few days and now I have some thoughts.

Timeline is a great retrospective, but not a great way to live in the now.
Timeline is visually attractive, but far less usable. It doesn't work for people who live out their daily lives on Facebook. Its focus is on summarizing the past, not living out the present. People use Facebook to interact with friends about what's happening right now, not to browse through what they did between 2006-2011. Timeline is too much like a yearbook to be useful for people who live out their active lives on the social networking site.

The Facebook Wall and Newsfeed differ from Timeline in one very important way: they were one column.
Timeline is far less scannable and takes a lot more work to parse information because of the two-column format. Facebook is trying to solve an issue that's existed as long as social profiles have been around: how to fit more information (specifically status updates) on a screen. Unfortunately, it's just not natural to move the eyes down the screen in sometimes diagonal, sometimes horizontal patterns. What's worse is that it takes mental processing to figure out what post to look at next. The reason the Wall was so successful (along with Newsfeed) were because you didn't have to move your eyes. You could consume information by effortlessly scrolling down the page.

People left Myspace for Facebook because it was cleaner and simpler to use.
Because of the customization Myspace allowed, profiles were messy and out of control. The comment above is worrisome because it sounds like the average internet user is starting to feel the same way about Timeline as we used to feel about Myspace profiles: too cluttered, too busy, and not useful enough to be worth it.

--

Overall the look and feel of Timeline is nice, and its definitely the most visually stunning product Facebook has built. But Timeline should be relegated to a retrospective view - something that strictly summarizes your life, not something that tries to play out every minute of life as it happens.

Putting my life into perspective

Elon Musk is pushing the human race forward

I admire Elon Musk because he is not afraid of taking on the challenge of solving big problems. He has an impressive resume, but I want to focus on Tesla Motors and SpaceX, which are two companies he founded using much of his own money. Through these companies, Musk is developing technological advances that are pushing the human race forward.

The work of Elon Musk’s companies makes the accomplishments of the average tech startup look trivial. Reading about Musk makes a person reconsider whether or not they should be working on improving ad performance on the Internet when he or she could be helping to put a man on Mars.

murtza.org

I haven't been able to get this post out of my head since it made it on Hacker News a couple weeks ago. It continually makes me put my life into perspective. Sure, I'm building cool things, but am I doing anything that will make any lasting impression on society?

Most people will agree that we don't all need to do (nor are capable of doing) something on the scale of Elon Musk. But personally, I'm not satisfied with settling with the scale of work I'm doing now (nothing against it). I just want to do something much, much bigger. I want to make it into history books for doing something great.

Look out, world. Here I come.

The biggest iOS 5 bug you've never heard of

There is a huge bug when Group Messaging is disabled in iOS 5. I'm shocked Apple hasn't fixed this yet.

Today a friend sent out a text message blast, announcing they got a new phone number. Shortly after, I got text messages from three random people I don't know. I was confused how these people got my number, but then I realized they were replies intended for my friend who sent out the text blast.

If you've ever used the Group Messaging feature, it's supposed to thread messages sent to groups, showing the person's name above their reply. But in order to use this feature, you have to explicitly enable Group Messaging.

If you don't enable Group Messaging, messages from anyone who replies will be sent as text messages to everyone on the thread. But what's worse: your reply will, unbeknownst to you, be sent to everyone on the group message. The problem is that there is absolutely no indication your reply will be sent to anyone other than the person you're replying to. If you don't have Group Messaging enabled, it's pretty cut and dry: your reply should not be sent to the entire group.

I kind assume this is an Apple backward compatibility "feature," but I'm not the only person surprised by how this works. In this Apple Support thread, representatives from both Apple and cell phone companies were shocked to discover replies get sent to everybody on the thread.

Apple really screwed up on this one. If you have Group Messaging disabled, you shouldn't be getting replies from people you don't know. But more importantly, your reply shouldn't be sent to a group of people without your knowledge.

The biggest err on Apple's side is the lack of communication of how this feature works. You can't just change how text messaging works without informing people. There needs to be instructions around the Group Messaging feature that explains if you turn the feature off, your reply can get sent to a whole host of people without your knowledge or intent.

Good vs. Excellent

I have a friend who is currently job searching. He's extremely qualified but keeps getting turned down for positions because his salary requirements are too high. While the rejection can be disappointing, getting turned down by employers who don't want to pay for an employee of his caliber is actually for the best. Here's why:

There is a difference between working for an employer who is willing to pay for a good employee vs. an excellent employee. And if you're excellent at what you do, you shouldn't want to settle for a company who would only pay you for a good job.

There was a time where I found myself without a fulltime job for a couple months. I could have easily settled for a lower-paying job instantly, but the reason I didn't wasn't because I was greedy or because I thought I was "above" lower-paying jobs - it was because I wanted to work for a company who recognized my value.

I believe I provide a very specific, and specialized service in the web industry. As such, I wanted to work for a company who saw the value in hiring a person with specialized skills such as myself, rather than hiring an average, more general designer. I was fortunate enough to find a company who understood that a person of my skill came with a higher price tag.

It's rare to find a company who holds this higher standard, but if you can find a company like that, it's totally worth it. You're going to find more satisfaction in the work you do, not because of the salary, but because you know the company recognizes every bit of value in your work - because they're paying the premium for it.

Coincidences

I'm in Holland, Michigan this weekend for Finish Weekend, a great concept put on by Collective Idea. Yesterday I met some new people that, as it turns out, I narrowly missed crossing paths with before.

The first was a fellow attendee to Finish Weekend from Lansing, Michigan. As I was scanning through his tweets, I discovered he checked into a delicious taco joint called Torchy's in Austin about a month ago. I remember vising Torchy's when I was in Austin last month, and knew I was there around the same time. A quick look through my Foursquare check-in history showed me that we checked into Torchy's in a two hour time difference from each other. Two guys from two different parts of the world who almost crossed paths in a place they were both visiting.

Later that night, I met a girl (we happen to share the same name) who lives here in Holland who was sporting a beanie from a company started by some guys I went to college with in Southern California. That led into a conversation about how she lived in Southern California for a while. Turns out she worked at a restaurant right next door to the Starbucks I practically lived at for my four years of college, about 15 minutes from where I live.

A while back, I posted a picture of a car I was following with a notable license plate frame. A few months later, I spotted the same car about 20 miles away (original post here). I posed the question, "How often do we drive by the same people and never realize it?" But the story above just gets weirder. You can't tell from the picture in the post I just mentioned, but the building just outside of the shot is the Starbucks which is right next door to the restaurant the girl worked at.

It's crazy to me how often we can discover these things about one another, and how common it actually happens. Our lives are more intertwined than we realize. Just imagine if we stopped and got to know everyone we passed by in life; if we just took the time to get to know people, what kind of other crazy stories and coincidences would we discover?