Facebook changes .. welcome to the cloud

I've been leaving my blog for the work that I'm doing related to databases, but I've seen something that has made me wonder... hmmmm... we're going to have to get used to change with technology. It seems, every time Facebook makes a major upgrade or "improvement" to their system, a lot of my friends get really upset. I see things like, "why change a good thing" or "just when I was getting used to the system" or "it's doing something new that it didn't do before". Then, a period of time passes. The new becomes old. And, it changes again! Oh my, how could they change it?! Well, I guess with my yogic mentality, I think change keeps us awake and less likely to accept the norm. But, as I understand it, change is not easy (although, for some reason, I actually like change. Keeps me feeling alive, but I'm a strange bird, I realize that after a few years of therapy). Most will tell me, change for the sake of change isn't worth it, but I say, why not. It's good to change it up a bit. Look at this in a new light with a new lens. It's how we can make sure we don't accept the norms in society.

Anyway, this really isn't a post about change, it's a post about the new features in Facebook that I've been looking forward to. Finally, a way to keep my friends closer and my acquaintances... well, not farther, just less noise on my Facebook wall. This means I can have more friends and still be able to see my close friends' posts.

Most of this stuff you'll see here can be found under the arrow on the very right side (next to the Home link). Click on Privacy Settings to see these options.

One thing I like, that was actually something released earlier, is that I can control the tags in which I appear. I think this is a fantastic setting that allows me to make sure I'm really in a picture or that I want to be tagged in a post. This can be found in the section How Tags Work. I have turned off the Tag Suggestions and the Check In functions entirely.

The privacy and security of Facebook has really come a long way. I'm very happy with how certain posts can be hidden or shown to certain friends. I also like how I can control my posts so that only my friend can see the post and not friends of friends. This is a wonderful feature that helps me to keep things for just my friends. This Facebook FAQ does a pretty good job of explaining it (that would be my one complaint, the lack of good help in Facebook). Anyway, there is also a setting for under How You Connect where you can lock down things even further. For example, I have it set so that only my friend can look me up by name, can send me Facebook messages, can post on my wall and can see wall posts by others on my profile. Only friends of friends can send me friend requests. I like that feature a lot. Why let anyone send me requests?!

This page does a pretty good job of explaining the latest changes. I say pretty good as it's not the best and quite short without any screenshots. Read carefully, it's not well written.

I think the privacy controls settings and such are fantastic. I have been keeping Facebook as a friends only place for so long and removing "friends" from time to time. My idea was this: twitter for friends and colleagues; Facebook for family and friends; Linked In for colleagues. Now, the lines are blurring a bit. Some say that's not good, and I personally don't like it, but that doesn't mean you have to do it. I have *not* signed on for the subscribe feature... yet.... I'm not seeing the value to the greater social world. Who cares about my mundane life other than my friends and family? If you're not sure what I'm talking about, then don't worry about it. You don't have to have subscribers and you most certainly don't have to subscribe to anyone. Here are the details, if you're interested. Keep in mind, it's a Facebook help, not the best in the world. By default, you are "subscribed" to all your friends and they are to you, BUT no one else can subscribe to your posts UNLESS you Allow Subscribers. And, you can control what they can see... again, not sure why I would do this at this point in my life, but who knows. It's a feature I might desire in the future.

Now, back to the subscribe with your friends. There is a feature to allow it so you can subscribe to a friends updates at different levels. Right now, most of your friends are set to Most Updates. There might be some friends you want to change to All Updates or Some Updates. So, it's clear what All Update means, but what about Some and Most? What do those mean? This is not entirely clear, but it is clear you can select what type of updates you wish to have (life events -- marriage, baby, etc as updated in your profile; status updates; photos; games -- if you never want to see another farmville updates, uncheck this!!; comments and likes; other activities -- not sure about this one). You can even unsubscribe entirely and you won't see anything from this person, but you can remain friends with them (why you would do that is beyond me, but hey, it's there for you to use). Now, rather than going to each friends page and making these changes, you can wait until they show up on your feed. Click on the down arrow to the right of the feed item and select your update frequency. If you want to dig deeper, click on their name and go to the profile page. It will take time if you have a lot of friends, but well worth it! I wish they had a quicker way (like a list of friends down one and a check box where you can turn things on and off, that's more of a data entry thing).

So, that's what I've learned in playing with it for a few hours... not bad and pretty easy to figure out!

I can tell you that more changes are on the way. Expect new features in Facebook in the coming months. To keep up with those changes, check out  the Facebook Blog and read up on what's coming. They have a place where you can post your ideas and even a place to voice our concerns (others might provide you help you need to understand the modifications coming).

All in all, I think the changes are inevitable. Some say it's because competitors have pushed it (isn't that a good thing?!). This blog post does a great job of getting various thoughts on this new Facebook features. Frankly, I do believe in this world of cloud based systems like Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter, etc. we are all going to have to get used to change. So, I leave you with this quote on change:

"They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom." -- Confucius

UPDATE September 25 I've got some recommendations for folks on getting your security settings going. I'd highly recommend you do this now before the new timeline feature takes hold, which is an entire new face on your Facebook page. More on that later, here is what I did to quickly get my friends in the right category and Facebook working for me.

First, you'll want to categorize your friends as acquaintances or close friends. Basically, take those you want to keep in close touch with, know all about their changes in their life, put them in the close friends category. The rest, put them in acquaintances. You can always move friends in and out of these categories, but you need to start so you can see what will happen. The quickest way I found to categorize friends was to pull up the list and hover over the Friend button and then select Close Friend or Acquaintance (or other categories).

Second, you want to select what events you want to see and how often. Remember the All, Some and Most setting? Well, I just set all my friends to All Events and then toggled what I wanted to see. So, for some, it's all things they post (I removed Games from everyone), but for others, it's just life events (which will make more sense when the new Timeline is revealed). Now, as long as you did the first, you can change these lists at once. So, for example, click on the Close Friends list. Here you can turn notification on or off and also Manage the list (what do you want to see). Like I said, I've turned off Games for everyone (select Choose Update Types). I've kept the other ones one for Close Friends. For acquaintances, I've turned off quite a few items.

These steps will help you get prepared for the new timeline coming, which will rock your world. Basically, everything will change on how friends will see you on Facebook. Like, right now, when you click on the link with you name, you see the old profile, the new one will look like this: