Facebook Shares Preliminary Mocks on the Future of News Feed at Dev Garage

Last night, Facebook held a Developer Garage on Feeds and Social Distribution at Blue Chalk Café in Palo Alto. The event gave the developer community a sneak preview of how Feed Forms may evolve, provided developers with tips on how to create more meaningful Feed stories, and demo’d Facebook’s first social widget, the Comments Box. The speakers included Dave Morin, Josh Elman, Ari Steinberg, Jerry Cain, and Ray He.

The message to take home about the future of feeds on the Platform: more sharing in the user’s voice, less reporting in the third person.

Facebook has over 175 million users worldwide who together represent the social graph that links family, friends, and coworkers together. As Elman explained, because these relationships are based on mutual trust, your social network helps you filter information for relevance. The News Feed’s function, then, is to promote the selective sharing of information between friends.

Here’s a practical example of how Facebook sees feed stories changing in the future. When sharing a video on Facebook today, the Feed story shows up in your friend’s News Feed like this:

Notice that even though my intention is to share a video, the overall style of the story is report-like: “Jessica Lee posted a link to a video.” With updated Feed Forms, Facebook will encourage users to add comments before publishing feed stories, and the feed stories will lead with their comments in the first person voice.

This story structure feels more like I’m telling a story by myself, in my own words. Visually, it’s as if I’m talking with a bubble coming out of my mouth.

(It should be noted that while Facebook said it would be encouraging developers to publish feed stories in the first person in the future, any changes will be backwards compatible.)

If this preview is a good indication of where Facebook is headed in the development of Feeds, then developers should be prepared to adapt and build their applications with the impact of prominent comment fields in mind. Being able to integrate rich media (images, video, audio, and flash) into Feed stories will also become increasingly important in the creation of Feed content that is engaging. This means that developers must learn how to leverage Facebook’s functionality in a way that enhances application performance and delivers greater social value to the user.

Here’s a video of Facebook’s Ari Steinberg explaining the new approach at the event:

Please note that Facebook prefaced the ideas shared at the Developer Garage with the statement that they are a work in progress, and are subject to change. In addition, specific timing of potential new features was not announced.

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