Internet users once stalked off into the cyberfrontier looking for transcendence. The new Facebook wants you to understand your life from the comfort of its walled garden.
The Meaning Machine takes all of your inputs at one end -- photographs, status updates, game plays, song listens -- and transforms them into meaning that's organized and designed.
The Meaning Machine is what happens when we apply statistical methods to human lives. Run regressions on your experience of the world and this is what you get. Right now we call it Facebook Timeline, but it will have many forms over the coming decades.
The Meaning Machine relieves you of the struggle to examine your experience of the world. You only need to post status updates and photos. Just live life and record it in social media. The Meaning Machine takes it from there. Feel the algorithm!
The Meaning Machine is part of Mark Zuckerberg's plan to make the world more "open and connected." To him, it is "an important next step to help you tell the story of your life." It helps you "express who you really are." These all seem like objective and good things.
The Meaning Machine works for Mashable's Pete Cashmore. "Much like our memories, Facebook Timeline understands that some moments have resonance that lasts through the years," Cashmore writes at CNN. "It's a marvel of computer programming: An algorithm that comes eerily close to emulating human memory; perhaps the first algorithm to spark such a deep emotional response."