Friday, June 26, 2009


From: Hugh

Just a short informational note from a fairly serious genealogist. To be sure that I wasn't missing something personally or genealogically useful, I tried Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

My conclusions:

Twitter may be fun for the teenies but for me it's another Internet waste of time. I have seen little of real use for Twitter. I've concluded that there isn't much serious communications that can fit within the 140 character limitation. It's not for me. I disconnected.

YouTube: Potentially useful but needs improved content organization and better moderation. 80-90% of its content is not useful or informative. I continue access it weekly, primarily for news not covered by the net news distributors.

Facebook: A step better than Twitter but I don't like all the automatic "friend" sign-ups. The act of signing up my entire mailing list almost caused me to turn it off! I ended up with chatter from all the teens at my church and the crazies in some advocacy groups I watch. It does seem good for quick announcements to groups. Better than e-mail? I'm not so sure. I'll stay with it for a while before deciding.

Blogs: Selected blogs are not superflous at all. I subscribe to a number of genealogy blogs including yours.

Mailing lists: I've been on genealogy mailing lists since the early days of Rootsweb. It's dwindled since being taken over by a bottom line focussed company but not as badly as I had expected. had a really bad name in those days - has it improved? Really?

The Internet: What can you say - it's revolutionized genealogy! What we need though is a more organized Cyndi's List of sources and websites. But how do we pay for it?

My 32 cents.

Thanks for your quick review of some Internet resources that may or may not be useful to family historians. Here is Ol' Myrt's feedback, plus a few additions:

Twitter: If you are accustomed to receiving text messages on cell phones, following the Tweets of specific bloggers, family members or news feeds can keep you on top of things. Clickable links are provided to the full text of items of obvious importance.

YouTube: As has forged ahead with informative, thought-provoking videos, so too can individual researchers, bloggers and instructors. YouTube is a place for the videos to exist at no cost to the videographer. I heartily recommend anything by Lisa Louise Cooke or Robert Ragan.

Facebook: Ol' Myrt respectfully disagrees with you about Facebook. But then years ago when I joined when there was no one else in Facebook, so I had to call Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic, and ask him to sign up just so I would have a friend. The beauty of Facebook is that unlike MySpace, you must first authorize a friend to your info. As a matter of fact, you didn't have to add your entire address book. Even now, you may discretely "ignore" updates from all those teeny-boppers at church. Alternately, you can remove them from your friend's list.

For me, Facebook is where I am receiving a lot of feedback on my various blog entries from fellow genealogists. Facebook is where I first learned a good friend's father passed away, and could therefore send condolences. Facebook is where the pictures of a newborn neice were first posted. Facebook is also where I play games with my grandchildren.

So for me, Facebook helps me keep up with the current news of the current generation.

I agree, Ol' Myrt here doesn't need to know whether someone drank coffee or orange juice before going out to fetch the morning paper.

Blogs: Ol' Myrt couldn't agree more that blogs are VERY useful. For family historians , it is a method to permanently honor ancestors. Blogs are an easy-to-use method for distributing information that instructors may use to share with their students. Blogs cost the blogger NOTHING, and THAT is good use of Internet technology. The blog format permits the addition of photos (of documents, screen shots, etc.), as well as text formatting to ensure ease of reading.

Mailing Lists: Ol' Myrt agrees that message boards and blogs coupled with advanced Google Search capabilities has made the old generic-looking mailing list postings nearly obsolete.

Internet: Yes, we do need a Family History Catalog that incorporates all that the Family History Library has plus all that is available in index or scanned image format plus the combined catalogs of all known libraries in the universe. Supposedly WorldVitalRecords (WVR) and FamilySearch are collaborating on such a project, but I have little hope for its seeing the light of day at the rate they are going. If I were Paul Allen, I would have had my WVR programmers make this catalog project JOB ONE. (But I digress.)

MORE: To your list of Internet resources useful to novice as well as serious genealogists, Ol' Myrt would add:

  • Flickr - Photo sharing at its finest. Yes, there are other places that offer this service.
  • Google Books - Scanned images of book mentioning your ancestor or the place where he once lived. Its all about adding meet on the bones.
  • Google Groups - Free calendar, file storage, message boards with distribution to members. This is a great resource for family organizations, reunion committees, etc.
  • Google Maps - In some cases street views are available that include an ancestor's home if it is still standing. Custom maps are useful if you are planning a family reunion, or you'd like to re-create an ancestral migration trail for future family retreats.
  • Second Life - A fun way to connect with other researchers by creating an avatar and interacting in a creative online environment where both typed and voice chats are possible. This medium is used by university professors, so it cannot be that far fetched.

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

© 2009 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to . Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.

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