When Google first launched Google+ it reminded a lot of people, right out of the box, a lot of Facebook, in terms of the way it was designed. If some patents that have been acquired by Google are an indication of things to come, Google+ may one day resemble Facebook even more.
Last year, Facebook unveiled the Timeline, providing users (and eventually brands) with an opportunity to showcase as much biographical information (dating back to their birth) as they like. Some still haven’t accepted the feature (not that they have much of a choice), but it seems that Timelines are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Google, which continues to integrate Google+ into just about every aspect of its business, in one way or another, may be eyeing a similar approach to user profiles.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. That is a big MAY, but Bill Slawski at SEO by the Sea, who spends a lot of time digging through patents, has made a very interesting find in that Google has acquired several patents from TimeCove Corporation, which have to do with timeline-oriented social media.
Slawki points to a couple sites TimeCove has operated, and they both have heavy Timeline themes:
The Patents are:
Collaborative system and method for generating biographical accounts (Abstract: A collaborative system and method are used to capture, organize, share and preserve life stories. Life stories can be expressed in first person or third person. In either case, the process of developing the life stories is carried out with collaboration with and contributions from other users. The collaboration among the users is desirable because it serves to encourage and prompt users to record their life stories and also increases the relevance of the recorded life stories, so that an online community of users containing highly relevant and meaningful content, that is also relatively permanent in nature, about the users can be created.)
System and Method for Facilitating Collaborative Generation of Life Stories (Abstract: Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) support the collaborative generation of life stories by helping the user view the development of the life stories of other users and facilitating interaction with them through these GUIs. A GUI according to a first type helps the user keep track of recent life stories and comments posted by other users of the collaborative system, and a GUI according to a second type helps the user view life stories of any user in a chronological manner.)
System and Method For Organizing Recorded Events Using Character Tags (Abstract: A computer system organizes text narratives and images about events using character tags, which are tags that are defined by users with respect to those persons that are depicted in the text narratives and images. Each character tag is associated with either a user profile or a pseudo-profile. A pseudo-profile for a person is created by a user when the user does not know if the person has a user profile in the computer system. An invitation e-mail that is sent to a prospective user may include content stored in the computer system, or a hyperlink to such content, that has been tagged with the character tag of the prospective user.)
System and Method For Facilitating Collaborative Generation of Life Stories (Abstract: Content that has been entered by a user for one purpose is used to generate new content for the user’s life story collection. This facilitates the generation of relevant content in a life story collection system. In one example, a user enters a text narrative of a life story and that text narrative is used to generate one or more images that can be added to the life story. In another example, e-mail communication between two users is parsed and transformed into content that can be added to the life stories of the users. In still another example, a comment made by a user to life stories of another user is parsed and transformed into content that can be added to the life story of the user.)
Just because Google has patents (and these are still pending at that), does not mean that they’ll directly reflect the direction Google is going in, though patents can often provide clues about Google’s strategy.
There’s no question that the major social networks frequently borrow feature and design elements from each other. I’ve written about this in the past in: Should Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Be Getting More Alike?
The longer a user maintains a social profile, the more valuable a timeline type of feature may become, and Google has clearly invested a lot into these Google Profiles and the Google+ “social spine” of its company. It looks like Google’s in it for the long haul with this one. This is no Google Buzz. Google+ and the Google Profile is becoming central to the greater logged-in Google experience, and that encompasses a lot of different Google products. A timeline may one day be very handy for digging back through old Google-based experiences.
Do you use Google+? Would you like to see a timeline fortmat implemented?