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At a party hosted by Facebook last Thursday, I heard a lot about the company’s new iPhone app, but also about an “under the radar” feature called Activity that people seemed really excited about.
After using Activity the past week or so pretty extensively, I’ve realised that it’s an even bigger deal than Timeline, Facebook’s big profile redesign. And nobody’s talking about it yet.
Not too far from now, everything you do on a computer or mobile device will tie in directly to Facebook, complete with time stamps for when you did something.
Activity is a screen that shows a giant list of every single thing you’ve done on Facebook, plus any songs you’ve listened to, articles you’ve read, events you’ve attended, and soon, much more. It’s built on top of a platform called Open Graph.
When Facebook announced Open Graph at its F8 Conference this summer, Mark Zuckerberg spoke about various apps that will plug into Open Graph like Netflix, Nike+, Foodspotting, and more. Since, we’ve heard from Kobo about a social feature present in its e-readers called Reading Life. When you finish a book, your e-reader can post the update to your Facebook profile.
These apps don’t tie in just yet, but they will soon.
Here’s an example of how an Activity page looks today:
As you can see, you’ll be able to literally see a minute to minute break down of what you did every day of your life.
Activity is incomplete until many more apps can tie in, but here’s how the future might look when you glance back at a day in your past:
First, you checked into a bar to watch a football game using Foursquare, and then you went home and finished a book you were reading on Kobo. Afterwards, you listened to a new album using Spotify, and then you snapped a picture of the leaves changing colours in your backyard using Instagram. Once you got hungry, you opened up Foodspotting on your iPad and picked a recipe to cook. To cap off the night, you watched a few episodes of TV on Netflix.
These apps will let you enable automatic posting to Facebook for when you do just about anything, which is pretty revolutionary. Your entire life can be recorded on Facebook, if you flip the “share” switch to On in each app.
Making your automatic posts public is the craziest, but also possibly the most enriching part of the whole deal.
A future with “Realtime Serendipity,” as Facebook calls it, is a future where you start conversations based on a song you saw someone listening to.It’s a future where someone sees that you’ve started baking a pecan pie, and recommends you toss in some secret spice.
It’s a future where someone sees you watching an episode of Heroes on Netflix, then tells you to skip the last two seasons.
There aren’t very many things Open Graph will be unable to track—besides real interaction with another human, that is. Unless you friend that human after your conversation, of course.
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