At the annual F8 Facebook Developers Conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced a strategic shift in the way that developers will interact with Facebook’s platform, Open Graph, which in turn marks a major shift in the way users will interact with the site and the information presented to them.
Tighter integration with Facebook via Open Graph will allow users to explore content from a dizzying array of sources without leaving the social network and will foster increased sharing and, Facebook hopes, more time on the site.
The new Facebook Timeline, which will replace users’ current profile pages, will become a kind of digital scrapbook, categorizing the major events in users’ lives for their friends to see. Gestures will expand the ways that people interact with content, allowing for greater expression in Facebook, in iphone app development and on third party sites integrating Open Graph.
The Ticker, which is one of the main destinations for Zuckerberg’s lauded “frictionless experience”, will show more lightweight actions in an unobtrusive fashion while still allowing users to easily view and interact with the information.
As the platform with which third parties can integrate their services into Facebook, Open Graph has seen several changes since its introduction. Using a single API, developers can read from and write to Facebook, passing information about users’ actions from third-parties to Facebook and vice versa. It provides an easily-implemented authentication protocol that allows for a single sign-in component across the web, mobile and desktop. Another aspect of
Open Graph is the ability for companies to build Facebook apps on a Canvas Page, which is loaded completely within Facebook, allowing users to access and interact with content while staying connected to their social network.
Zuckerberg introduced the latest iteration of profile pages during the conference: Facebook Timeline. Likening the first version of Facebook profiles to the first five minutes of a conversation, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook Timeline would deliver the next several hours. Facebook will aggregate past information users have posted, categorizing and sorting it before displaying it in chronological order, with major events being more prominent and minor events fading out the further back a user looks.
Gestures will provide depth and diversity to users’ interactions with content on Facebook, expanding from the only currently used verb, “Like”, to as many actions as developers can dream. People will be able to show that they have eaten a certain food or read a specific blog article, enabling them to contextualize their experience with the content.
In an effort to encourage more sharing and interaction on the site, Facebook has removed what it deems lightweight interactions from users’ news feeds, placing them in a new area: the Ticker.
Facebook has grown concerned that users are posting less content because they don’t want to crowd their friends’ News Feeds. From now on, every action that’s not seen as important by Facebook, whether it’s a “Like” or a friend listening to a song on Spotify, will show up in the Ticker, which will be updated in real time.
This will free up the News Feed for more high profile interactions while still allowing users access to all of their friends’ actions.
This latest major overhaul to Facebook, especially the platform underlying the user interface and experience, will help users and developers better contextualize the interactions taking place on the world’s largest social network. In the end, hopefully, it will provide a better user experience while giving companies more exposure to their target audiences.