Saturday, August 01, 2009

Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt # 30

Prompt: Write about your experiences with social networking tools for genealogy purposes. Do you use MySpace, Facebook or Twitter? Are you a wiki kind of person? None of the above? Tell readers about your experiences with these tools and watch your social network grow.

I'm not cool, but I don't care.

Social media may appear to be for the young and not the young at heart, but to hear my kids complain about it - now the 'old' people are taking over. I think that it bothers them that I'm on Facebook.

Facebook has allowed me to connect with old friends, relatives and co-workers easily and for free. For the genealogist, social media allows you to connect with fellow researchers and family by sharing your photos and blogs to a wider audience. I've been able to make new friends and trade research ideas, as well as discover a few new cousins online through my Facebook connections.

Because of these Facebook connections, I've been able to share photos of ancestors and tombstones I've taken for Find-A-Grave as well as share memories with living cousins. Fellow genealogists have helped with lookups of information in distant locales after reading my posts and have offered suggestions for further research.

I have my blog posts linked to appear on my Facebook page as 'Notes' so that all of my networked friends will have the ability to read what has been posted without accessing my blog. This exposes my research to my friends and relatives who may not have been aware that I was blogging. Often I use the 'Networked Blogs' application as well to periodically highlight a particular post.

I haven't ventured into the Twitter waters yet, but if I do, I'm sure that I will enjoy that technology as well.

Overall, my experience with social networking and genealogy research has been a positive one. I have been able to expose my blog and my research to a wider audience and have received positive feedback. I've also received research tips and offers of help. Some of my Facebook friends that are not genealogists have asked for tips on how to start their own family history research, and my far-flung cousins are able to read about my research through my linked blog posts.

I would highly recommend using social media as another tool to put your research out there. You never know what genealogical treasure may be turned up through these casual connections, and the friendships that develop can enrich your life and expand your research.
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