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Ready or not, Facebook's Timeline is coming to a profile near you

Why? It's all about Open Graph--making sure your friends can flood you with info on what they're buying, eating and listening to.

Facebook's new Timeline.
Facebook's new Timeline.

If you're one of those Facebook users who has seen Timeline and shunned it, the world's largest social network has some bad news for you: in the coming days, you won't have that option any longer.

Facebook announced in a blog post today that Timeline will be brought to all of the social network's 800 million users "over the next few weeks." Upon getting Timeline, users will have seven days to preview what's populated before it's automatically pushed live. Users that edit what they want people to see before that seven-day window can push the feature live sooner.

Facebook introduced Timeline at its F8 conference in September. The update is a dramatic departure from current user profiles, and includes all items a person has shared on the social network since they joined. At his company's F8 conference, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the feature is "a way to tell all the important stories from your life on a single page."

Aside from displaying a prominent "cover photo" at the top of the user's profile and basic information below it, Timeline has a right sidebar listing years in chronological order that users can click on to see what others have shared on the site. Timeline also includes a map for people to input where they've been around the world.

Although some Facebook users had access to Timeline sooner, last month, the company opened up the opt-in to all of its users.

So, why is Timeline suddenly a mandatory feature? It's all about timing.

Last week, the company announced the launch of additional Open Graph applications, which combine the "actions" users engage in both on the world's largest social network and off, into a single spot in their Open Graph. So, if a user is listening to a song, watching a television show, or reading a news article across the Web, it can be shared on Facebook for friends to see. Those friends can then join in and do the same. At F8, Zuckerberg said that the idea could create "a completely new class of social apps than what was ever possible before."

The key ingredient in those applications is Timeline. Unlike so many other activities on Facebook, what users do off the site through those apps will show up in the Timeline, and not in news feeds. So in order for Facebook to get its Open Graph initiative off the ground, you're being pushed into using Timeline--whether you like it or not.