Facebook debuts Timeline, a dramatically new kind of profile

Mark Zuckerberg unveiling Timeline at f8 2011

Facebook announced on Thursday a dramatic new user interface for profiles called “Timeline.”

In a keynote speech at the company’s f8 developer conference in San Francisco, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described Timeline as “a great way to discover all the things people have done their whole life.” Timeline’s aim is to allow users to easily browse through the history of their activity on Facebook all the way back to the day they were born. “Timeline is a completely new aesthetic for Facebook,” Zuckerberg said.

Timeline won’t be available for a few more weeks, according to Facebook. Timeline and all its features will be viewable from any type of mobile device, Zuckerberg said, which may indicate the app is built with HTML5.

The new interface is aimed at making it much easier to get a full picture of a person by seeing more about them than just their most recent updates, Zuckerberg said. As Facebook’s blog post about Timeline reads:

“The way your profile works today, 99 percent of the stories you share vanish. The only way to find the posts that matter is to click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of the page. Again. And again. Imagine if there was an easy way to rediscover the things you shared, and collect all your best moments in a single place.”

Screenshot of Timeline (click to enlarge)

Timeline is also meant to more fully incorporate third-party apps than earlier iterations of the interface had.  As part of that aim, also in the f8 keynote Zuckerberg detailed a host of new media apps (coverage of which you’ll find in other posts on GigaOM.)

Each user can customize his or her own Timeline, which will make each individual profile more personalized than Facebook profiles have been in the past. The redesign represents a huge departure for Facebook, which has historically been known for having a uniform look across all its profiles — something that set the social network apart from rivals such as Myspace.

Users often grumble about even the smallest of changes Facebook makes to its interface, so it will certainly be interesting to watch how the response to Timeline plays out. Zuckerberg acknowledged that the changes will probably not be met quietly: “People feel an intense ownership over their profile,” he said in the keynote.

But even with its advancing age and ever-increasing size, Timeline shows that Facebook is not showing any signs of slowing down or becoming averse to big changes as time goes on.

Here’s a video of Timeline in action: