Social Networking for Genealogists? Sure.

  • social networking (noun): a way of using online resources and services to create and maintain a community of individuals who share a common interest.

Social networking seems to be one of those ideas that people love or hate. When I was first encouraged to join Facebook, I resisted. All I knew about social networking is that young people used it to post pictures and messages that they probably should keep to themselves. Reluctantly, I opened a Facebook account. I was surprised at all the groups with related interests, including history and genealogy.

My own experience using Facebook has allowed me to learn from other genealogists, share information, stay in contact with family members in other geographic areas, and share old photos and memories. I wish I would have tried social networking sooner – it’s a blast!

Social networking on the World Wide Web is kind of like being part of a ‘virtual organization’. You can collaborate with other researchers and share information at the touch of a button. If you are brave and technically savvy enough, you can become a member of a virtual world called “Second Life”, where avatars (digital representations of real people) get together and discuss relevant topics. Yes, there are even genealogists and librarians in Second Life.

Other types of social networking include: message boards and mailing lists, RSS (real simple syndication), blogs, wikis, podcasts, and sharing photos and personal libraries. The possibilities are endless, as are the types of results you can get from the various sources online. Online collaboration is available for help in getting over those troublesome ancestral “brick walls”.

Not sure if you want to consider being a part of social networking? You should – I was reluctant at first. It opens up a whole new world of resources for genealogical research and for making contact with other people involved in genealogy (including some of your “relatives”). Read the book titled “Social Networking for Genealogists” by Drew Smith (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009) for explanation of the myriad versions of social networking and how to use them for family history research. He puts it into language that even some computer neophytes can understand.

Try it, you’ll like it. Refer to the following blog for further motivation:

http://blog.worldvitalrecords.com/2009/07/16/how-genealogists-use-social-networking

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