Archive for September, 2011
With much fanfare, Facebook announced a new “Timeline” feature at its F8 developer conference this week. This feature takes advantage of the enormous amount of information (photos, status updates, location) we all store in Facebook. The Timeline is accessible to Facebook application developers as well as the half a billion folks who use the the social network. With increased competitive pressure from Google+ and Twitter, Timeline will be an important differentiators between Facebook and their competition. Timeline also shows there is an interest in melding the past with the present. Timeline wouldn’t have been possible or relevant until Facebook achieved significant adoption and large amounts of data under management. The “network effect” of big data stored in one cloud-computing environment allows Facebook to have unique, unparalleled access to information never before possible with any other online system. Perhaps only AOL or CompuServe had this opportunity, but they didn’t have “the cloud” or sophisticated tools like Hadoop or NoSQL to make their data useful.
(As an aside, I expect some Facebook users might be startled with a “creepiness” factor when they see their Timeline presented back to them. Facebook will have the unique ability to remind us with a visceral visual recollection of past people, places and events.)
What’s interesting about Timeline is the way events, photos, postings, and news-feeds are visually presented. There is a lot of machine learning computational effort required behind the scenes to create relevant and compelling time-lines for 5ivehundred million accounts. This is an example of cloud computing, big data, analytics and creating a pleasing consumer experience.