Sunday, March 23, 2008

Second Life: A new type of genealogy society

Though Second Life has been around for a few years, I’ve only been experimenting with it for 12 months. At first I saw it as a big virtual chat room, where you create & clothe your personal avatar (a lot more interesting that a name and generic type in a chat room). You go from here to there meeting all sorts of other folks. What I discovered is a wealth of information about how to do genealogical research and a growing community of people who get together to talk about their recent discoveries, as well as relax at the end of the day.

Remember the popularity of Cheers, a tv show about a bar where “everybody knows your name”? Well, Second Life is like a place where “everybody knows your avatar”. And like a popular country-western song right now which goes something like “I’m so much cooler online”, your avatar can be as mild-mannered or kooky as you wish. Not everyone in Second Life (SL) is as willing to share his/her Real Life (RL) identity, but Ol' Myrt’s Second Life experiences include meeting 2 delightful individuals who obviously have a passion for family history:

Krag Mariner (RL owner of Heritage Books)
Clarise Beaumont

I know you could find in them a friend, and a willing tour guide to some of the genealogy spots in Second Life.

TIME IN SECOND LIFE is reckoned by Pacific Time (daylight now), and that is used as the universal time for anyone signing in, regardless of his actual location on earth. In this manner, if I were to sign in at 8 pm my time, and it is 7pm Second Life time.

Natually, one gravitates to groups reflecting personal interests. Last fall after my father died, I participated in grief support groups. I also made a few friends who liked to go dancing on Friday afternoons at POZ – Poets of Zarahemla. But my biggest personal interest is (of course!) GENEALOGY. Yes, Dick, there ARE people in Second Life interested in genealogy, and several have created places to go to learn more about how to do genealogy.

Three schedules of events are posted which will interest family historians:

FAMILY HISTORY CENTER (in the Adam ondi Ahman) – weekly chats on the following topics in April 2008, held Sundays at 5:15pm SL (which is 5:15pm Pacific US daylight time) Drop in and figure out how to make progress climbing your family tree. Clarise Beaumont is the hostess here.

  • 6 April 2008
    Genealogy Software & the "new" FamilySearch
  • 13 April 2008
    Finding help online: FHL Research Outlines
  • 20 April 2008 (no meeting, owing to uncertain travel schedules.)
  • 27 April 2008
    Coordinating with family members

GENEALOGY CENTER (on Info Island) – monthly discussion, and an exhibit that changes periodically. Currently it is a Native American Genealogy Exhibit. The Genealogy Scribes group is the host here.

JUST GENEALOGY (in Wollah at Heritage Books) – weekly discussions on the following topics in April 2008, held Tuesdays at 7pm SL (which is 7pm Pacific US daylight time.) Krag Mariner is the host here.

  • 1 April 2008, Tuesday
    Topic: Finding WHAT to search next
    DearMYRTLE, Guest speaker
  • 8 April 2008 (2nd Tuesday is ALWAYS EE)
    Introduction to Evidence Explained - open discussion
    Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained (EE)
    Chapter 1 – Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis, with emphasis on “Textual Criticism”
  • 15 April 2008
    Tax Rolls as census substitutes
  • 22 April 2008
    Overcoming Handwriting challenges
    Dearden's Deciphering Gothic Records
    Kip Sperry’s Reading Early American Handwriting
  • 29 April 2008
    Eyewitness reports
    Burgoyne’s Enemy Views
    County Histories (ie. Chester, others)
    P William Filby’s Bibliography of American County Histories

Previously Ol' Myrt has written about Rumsey Maps, which have a presence on the web and in Second Life. Learning about genealogical research in this hi-tech virtual world is a video and audio experience not to be missed. Besides it is fun to have a place to relax on the web, and mull over your findings with like-minded family historians.

NOTE: as with anything in the online world, there are also some ruffians out there, whose tastes may be different from yours. Just like I didn’t go to unknown chat rooms when on AOL, I know to hang out with the genealogy groups on Second Life. SL Membership is free. It is a different kind of “social networking”. This is an opportunity to participate in three distinct online genealogy groups -- or societies if you will.


What is second life?

System Requirements

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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