Is a Google Timeline in our Future?

Will Google offer a life story styled timeline similar to the Facebook Timeline? It’s possible.

Google acquired three pending patents and a granted patent that were originally assigned to WisdomArk, Inc., were transferred to Lifescape LLC, and then to Timecove Corporation. The patent assignment to Google was executed on May 12th, and recorded on June 1, 2012. The organization appears to have started a couple of websites, including Our Story and MyTimeCove.

Here’s a preview of ourstory from the front page of the web site:

A screenshot from the front page of ourstory.com.

Here’s a peek at part of the ourstory interface from one of the patent filings:

A screenshot from the patent showing an ourstory interface.

In what seems to be somewhat of a coincidence, connected people within a social system like the ones described in these patent filings might be sorted into private “circles.”

The patent filings are pretty self explanatory, so I’m not going to parse through them. I would guess that if Google adopts the processes involved in these, they might become part of what we see in Google Plus, but that isn’t necessarily clear.

Here are the patent filings that were assigned to Google:

Collaborative system and method for generating biographical accounts
Invented by Andrew Halliday and Christopher Lunt
Assigned to Timecove Corporation
US Patent 8,103,947
Published January 24, 2012
Filed: May 2, 2006

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
Invented by Andrew Halliday and Christopher Lunt
US Patent Application 20070250791
Published October 25, 2007
Filed: May 12, 2006

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
Invented by Andrew Halliday, Christopher Lunt, and Dean Pfutzenreuter
US Patent Application 20070250496
Published October 25, 2007
Filed: May 12, 2006

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
Invented by Andrew Halliday, Christopher Lunt, Dean Pfutzenreuter and Tim Correia
US Patent Application 20070250479
Published October 25, 2007
Filed: May 12, 2006

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.

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22 thoughts on “Is a Google Timeline in our Future?”

  1. Pingback: Is a Google Timeline in our Future? | Inbound.org
  2. Why am I not surprised?

    Isn’t the best life story platform the clear winner in the market? Why bother! G.Plus will probably have joined G.Wave six feet under by the time this is developed out.

  3. Man, I really hope not. I really don’t think this is such a great idea. The privacy controls are going to need to be out of control, and even with Google+ circles I still don’t trust that I have them set up correctly.

    Plus, I think Zuck has done a good job of convincing people that we WANT to tell our full life story online. I don’t think this is true though. What happens when you want to forget something in the past? Do you really want your whole past following you around in public all the time online?

    Here’s to hoping Google acquired this to kill it off.

  4. Zuck has done a very, very good job at convincing people that we do want our lives shared online. If we did decide that we didn’t want our lives (as a society) shared online, would there be any way to even do this after we have already shared so much?

  5. This development does not surprise me. Google are desperate to increase their presence in the social area.

    What is perceived as ‘best practice’ in an area will always be copied in some form, the key is to improve on existing tech. Will be interesting to see how this develops…

  6. You would think with the backlash against facebook timeline that they might have a rethink on this one. It seems that Google is now just making things to compete and crush their competition rather than for our benefit. Maybe its true that they are the new mircosoft. Kill the competitor and do maximum evil. A new motto?

  7. Hi Brent,

    Google’s failures at social seem to have been learning experiences as well. Google Plus is integrated into what Google is doing as a search engine in a way that Google Wave never was. I don’t think I’d bet that it will result in failure quite so quickly.

  8. Hi John,

    I’m not seeing the timeline feature in Facebook as any more intrusive on privacy than the way that information was presented previously there. You still have the option to share what you want to share, and not include the things that you don’t want to publish. If Google adopts a timeline approach, I think the things that you share with smaller circles or individuals are still going to be unavailable to a larger audience.

    I’m thinking of it as more of a user interface change, and a change in the way of how pages are potentially archived and accessed more than anything.

  9. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the link.

    The Magnolia patent applications appear to have been recorded at the USPTO assignment database in at least three parts. I saw the initial couple, which I believe involved a patent filing each, and tweeted about them when they first happened. The technology looks like it could potentially be very impactful.

    The last and largest assignment seems to be for technology based upon the earlier assignments. If the approach both provides stronger data signals, and much less battery usage to receive them, then it could give Android phones a significant advantage.

  10. Hi Jonathan,

    Not sure that there was really any convincing going on. We either kept our Facebook accounts and accepted the change, or didn’t. No vote or input on our parts involved. :)

  11. Hi Abiodun,

    More oriented in which way? Honestly, I wouldn’t find myself very surprised in Google made changes that made Google Plus look more like a timeline. If not for the pages of individuals, at least a timeline feature for businesses.

  12. Hi Bert,

    Regardless of whether Google does decide to move forward with a timeline or not, I think you’re right that it’s something that people are familiar with now, and something that Google should consider as a possible best practice. They may not implement it, but they do have it as a possible option at this point, and if they decide to launch it, they can point to the patents they acquired in case Facebook considers suing them.

  13. HI Brian,

    I can’t consider the acquisition of these particular patent filings as some evil plan on the part of Google. I see it more as a matter of dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s in the case that they do decide to adopt a timeline.

  14. Hello,

    very interesting patent research! I’ve nothing against timeline feature, especially when privacy filter can be applied (and it seems to be the case here, cf. second picture).

    What about a professional timeline, with professional contacts, to replace the old resume, and a private timeline for our familly/friends? The only thing that I hope is an interface more user-friendly that the FB one… I think it’s not very difficult :)

  15. Hi Michael,

    Not sure at this point if Google is going to use the Timeline feature described in these patents, but now that they were assigned to Google, it is a possibility.

    A professional timeline might be a nice approach to show past employment history, or even the history of a business that’s been around a few years and has some interesting events in their past.

    It seems like one of the biggest audiences that Timecove seemed to be attracting with their site were teenagers, interestingly.

  16. I personally hope this does not happen as I do not think google needs to have any more info on us than they already have and if they bring out a timeline like feature they will literally know almost everything about our lives from start to finish they already have alot of info on the general public just through google plus and the search terms people look for they can find out alot of info about people lifestyle.

  17. Hi Mili,

    I’m not sure that there’s really that much to be afraid of. I think you’re free to share as little or as much as you want, and that people will share information regardless of whether or not its in a timeline format.

  18. Great in depth article ! This could be really good or really bad for Google, should they choose to implement it. As seen with Facebook, people either love or hate the Timeline lay out. Whether or not they do ultimately choose to introduce Timeline to Google, I think it’s great that Google is at least looking into what their users may or may not want and keeping it fresh.

  19. Just another great space to share information and have the content made relevant for ad space. The more real estate they can create, that is easy to use, integrated in to many properties, now mobile and Glasses(?) will push revenues up- up- and away!

  20. Hello:

    Not sure if this is a place to find out what is going on with ourstory.com..I have been a paid member of os since 2007- Since the new version came online a year ago, things have been kind of rocky. I was told by Zack Murphy, that os was not compatible with os, and he would work with me to get the bugs ironed out. I have been working with os fairly well, however just last week, things changed drastically. So much, that I am now unable to use my blog on os. I have emailed them without a hint of support, other than a computer generated response, but nobody gets back with solutions.

    Hopefully, somebody here can enlighten me about what is going on with ourstory.

    Thanx,

    Larry T. Doughty
    http://www.ourstory.com/larrytdoughty/

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