It’s Only My 3rd Post and Already Contradicting Myself.

My previous post was fairly critical of Facebook’s new timeline profiles. And here, just a few weeks later, I’m ready to embrace it.

So what prompted my change of heart?

A month ago I bought a new computer. My initial plan was to use the clean hard drive as a second chance to get social media right, start with a clean slate. Opera would be be my “Facebook only” broswer, while serious web surfing would happen in Chrome. Facebook wouldn’t be able to track my browsing behavior outside their little quarantined zone. Victory would be mine.

You might be wondering why I’d go to such lengths to isolate my Facebooking. Snobbery, for one. Facebook is a technology for the masses and being part of the masses doesn’t sit well with me. Smart internety entreneurish types say “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product,” and I don’t want pimp Mark Zuckerberg to play me like that.

Furthermore, I hadn’t really accepted Facebook; didn’t trust it. But what do I have to hide? Photos of me with a beer in my hand, looking like it’s not the first one I’d drank? I’m okay with that. By comparison, there’s two video cameras in the lobby at work, and another three in the lobby of my apartment building. Those cameras in my apartment building have probably seen much worse, and I have NO idea where those images go.

In any case, my clean-slate, get-it-right, Opera-for-Facebook experiment lasted 1 week. Then I gave up, got tired of alt-tabbing, logging into gmail in Opera so I could follow the link to the thing and then view the photos and waste some time, then flip back to Chrome. Oy vey! Turns out I visit Facebook several times a day for a minute or two or five. Zuckerberg has already sunk his claws into my life and I’m okay with that.

So with fresh eyes I looked again at the timeline.

Suddenly it made sense. Time is universal, we will always organize our memories along a timeline. I bet it’s gonna be one of Facebook’s core innovations, in the same veign as Apple’s single-button iPhone and iPad. My initial suspicions that it was just a gimmick to boost the stock price during upcoming their I.P.O. were to cynical.

So welcome, Facebook, into my internet circle of trust. Inside that circle you’ll find some familiar names: google, amazon, github.com, heroku.com. Each inside-the-circle company provides me with services I need or want. For Facebook, those services are:

  1. Log in with Facebook - less typing, no more remembering passwords, confirming by email, filling in a profile, uploading a profile photo
  2. Photos taken of me, by other people - I don’t have to bring a camera anymore
  3. Invitations to events - I have more stuff to do than time to do it
  4. An easy, unified way to start new acquaintances. Some may be friends, but many are internet-only relationships.
  5. The occasional conversation over Facebook chat
  6. Links from friends to good distractions, such as this list of the worst album covers of all time; check it out!
  7. Timeline - a unified photo album/scrapbook, and I need to do little or nothing to maintain it.

And I get these for free. Win.

Sorry Facebook, for letting my snobbery and fear cloud my judgment. So here’s me publicly contradicting myself. This is why I’ll never be President. Our culture puts a lot of value on maintaining consistent opinions; but screw it. Changing my mind feels good.

Missing Persons: Words

I love this video. The year was 1981. This is what, I think, most bands should do when it comes time to make a video. Set up your equipment, get some cameras, and play live. Keep the shots long; let us watch you making your music. Good bands are interesting enough to watch without any adornment or dancing. This performance is enough to see why Missing Persons were a top live act in L.A. before their debut album came out.

Notice how Dale Bozzio, the singer, barely moves. She’s stands atop high heels, legs apart, like she owns the stage, a white-haired android with the pouty demeanor of a Valley Girl. Her singing is loaded with personality, the squeaks and whine, it’s perfect.

The guys in the band are all top-notch musicians. Terry Bozio, drummer and Dale’s then husband, guitarist Warren Cucurrolo, and keyboad-player Patrick O’Hearn all came from Frank Zappa’s band. You had to be bad-ass to play with Frank.

The song is really well crafted, it moves through moods while keeping that thunking pulse. It’s catchy and simple, yet unlike anything I’ve heard. The base is coming from the keyboard player’s left hand. The guitar playing is really exceptional; Radiohead’s guys sound a bit like this.

Notice the mullets. Notice the drummer’s make-up. The keyboard player’s wearing tights! These guys didn’t need back-up dancers or lazers.

Facebook’s Timeline Has Got Me Thinking

I have tried to like ‘em, but the new Facebook “timeline” profiles make me uncomfortable. It’s not just their aesthetics - the magazine-like layout, the lack of focus, or the strong whiff of narcissism - it’s the way they encourage me to treat the “past” as something that actually exists. It does’t.

The past does not exist; it’s a product of your memory.

Instead, stare straight down your nose at the present; it’s where life happens. Imagine the clean slate you’d have if you forgot your past; you might wake up speaking with a thick Irish accent or stop laughing at your bosses jokes.

To me, the timeline feels like an idea conceived by a 27-year-old. Here’s my summary of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s timeline:

  1. Born
  2. Enrolled in elite boarding school
  3. Accepted into Harvard
  4. Dropped out of Harvard because his business looked like it was gonna change the world and make him billions
  5. String of successful product launches
  6. Started to learn Chinese
  7. Time’s Man of the Year
  8. Met President of U.S.A.
  9. Preparing for Facebook’s I.P.O. ($100 billion valuation)

Whew! If that were my timeline I’d want to share it with you too. Ni hau li hai, Zuckerberg xian sheng!

I will be at least 43 years old by the time you read this; most of my life happened before Facebook. Here’s my timeline, analog format.

shopping bag of photos and journals

That’s “me” from age 18 to 28: photos, handwritten journals, concert tickets, and artifacts from places I’ve visited and things I’ve done that I wouldn’t dare do again. While my adult life has been fun, suprising, and adventuresome, I can’t see the value in spending too much time mulling over the contents of that paper shopping bag. More than once I’ve considered throwing the whole lot out; I doubt I’d ever miss it.