Facebook CTO Bret Taylor On “Trying To Find The Balance Between Self-Expression And Sharing”

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When Facebook CTO Bret Taylor was in high school, he had a backpack covered in patches that helped him express who he was and what things he was interested in. He thinks that your Facebook page is becoming more and more like that backpack. It is a reflection of your identity: where you’ve been, what you are thinking, what music you listen to, and photos of yourself and your friends.

In the video interview above, which I conducted this week at the Web 2.0 conference where Taylor was a speaker, he explains the thinking behind some of Facebook’s recent features, including Timeline, Ticker,and Open Graph.

Taylor describes Timeline is meant to show your life on one page, with the most important stuff up top, not necessarily the most recent. The Ticker, however is this constant stream of everything your friends are doing, much of it reported automatically by apps such as Spotify or RunKeeper.

It all can become a bit noisy if you ask me. “A lot of this is trying to find the balance between self-expression and sharing,” says Taylor. Self-expression is a deliberate act. You choose to put a particular song or photo in your Timeline to tell people who you are.

Ticker is a different beast altogether with its automated stream. It is over-sharing in its most unadulterated form. But Taylor doesn’t look at it that way. “Ticker is like the next generation of presence. It is valuable because it is realtime—what are my friends up to right now.” They are listening to “Hot in Here” by Nelly, now get on with your life.