Let’s face the (Facebook) future

Your digital life will change this week. Drastically. On Thursday. That’s because on or around Thursday, Sept. 29, your Facebook profile page will change. Let’s all take a deep breath and try to remain calm. If Facebook changes tend to freak you out, you may want to prep for the big day. It will be OK. We’ll get through it together.

As previously announced, Facebook is planning to flip the switch Thursday and migrate all personal profile pages to its innovative new Timeline layout. [No changes to business and organization pages. Yet.] After the initial confusion and panic, you will love the Timeline. Trust me. The Timeline features:

  • An intuitive, visually oriented layout
  • Larger photos
  • New features at the click of an icon
  • Vertical chronological slider for easy access to past posts, comments and likes

The beta preview is live for developers, and you can faux-hack in and get it now. Just follow these easy instructions, courtesy of Mashable, to enroll as a developer to get the new Timeline layout added to your personal page now. I did it, and I’m no developer [although I did teach myself to put a good hack on an existing FBML tab]. I took an hour or so over the weekend and did it at home, on my ironically-retro, used-as-heck IBM Lenovo T-43 laptop. If I can do it, you can.

And Facebook is paying attention to the beta phase. Some folks got a digital dust-up going when they discovered that all the people you have de-friended over the years was easily viewable by the general public. The FB developers quietly edited out the evidence. [Whew. Things would have been a little awkward around here on Friday.]

Of course, the new Timeline brings new, valid concerns about privacy and default settings. As in the past, it will be up to each Facebooker to learn about and change his or her settings. Look for some posts or emails from your privacy-sensitive friends come Friday. And you should be aware that Facebook cookies follow you around online, whether you are logged into Facebook or not.

It’s an imperfect digital social world out there. But at least it’s not Google+.

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