Thursday, October 8, 2009

Revisiting “Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time”

For some time I have been intending to write a follow-up to a post I wrote last July, “Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time,’” and then a couple of days ago I read FootnoteMaven’s witty post on the Carnival of Genealogy subject “Read My Obituary at the COG.” She points the finger at time-consumers Facebook and Twitter as the culprits – this could have been me! (Except for the Twitter part.)

I am happy to report that the time thing is working a bit better for me. I am now doing more genealogy and “enough” blogging. There is still a long way to go and I don’t always accomplish what I want to from day to day. Some days there are only a few look-ups or transcriptions, or I miss out on blogging prompts or carnivals (such as the blog obituary carnival – I even had a beginning paragraph, but still missed the deadline). If I have not made all the progress I had wished toward doing more genealogy, the distracting factors have primarily been work, family life, and “comatose days” – come home, eat, do a few chores, snooze in front of the TV.

What is different is that I am doing less social networking. There are various reasons for this, and I’m embarrassed to say that resolving to spend less time on social networking sites is not high on the list. The cutback actually happened sort of naturally.

- Facebook does not take up nearly as much of my time, mainly because my college daughter spends almost no time on it this year, and she was my main chat partner last year. This is not a 100% positive development, since I haven’t posted family pictures or document transcripts recently.

- I haven’t been on GenealogyWise for more than a month; that’s not all to the good, either, because it is still an avenue for getting in touch with other researchers and sharing knowledge.

For many genealogy researchers (including me), genealogy is an intensely social pursuit. Networking is a necessary, productive, and enjoyable part of genealogical research. If we cannot or do not interact with other people – connecting to relatives, experts, and other researchers to get the information we need by inquiring, learning, sharing, teaching, interviewing, and so forth – we seriously limit what we are able to achieve in our research. In addition, there is a need to share and publish what we have learned – to get feedback, advice, “attaboys,” or even commiseration. These things encourage and inspire us. Even some of the social genea-networking we do that doesn’t seem to produce direct results often fulfills this latter purpose and may keep us going when we get discouraged. For this reason, rather than making drastic cuts in social networking, it is probably better to reorder the networking we do if it is hindering instead of promoting our research.

For instance, I am trying to focus on a couple of mainstays in my blog, the Monday and Friday features: Monday Memories because recording our own memories is an essential part of genealogy that is often neglected, the featured families as a way to get in touch with other researchers, and family newsletters to keep interested family members current on my research. The Family Newsletters also keep me on track. Each week I have to report on what I have done, where I am, and what I need to do. Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun has been marvelous in helping me to set my genealogy research goals and priorities. Some of the carnivals help me to highlight research that I’m eager to share. Reading other genealogy blogs educates me, amuses me (there are some great humorists among the genea-bloggers), gives me new ideas, and reinvigorates me when I’m starting to drag.

I have noticed that when the Fairfax Genealogical Society resumed meetings in the fall there was a big spike in my research output. The meetings were a big incentive to get busy on my brick walls, both in preparation for the brick wall workshops and just because hanging out with other genealogy people gets the juices going.

Right around the time when I wrote “Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time,” several other blog posts appeared on the same subject; these thoughts had obviously stewing for a while with all of us. Some wiser heads noted that there seems to be a natural ebb and flow in our genealogy research, and that during the lulls we gather energy and inspiration to make a fresh and vigorous re-entry into genealogy. I believe they are right and am here to report that social networking has not killed my research.


  1. Great post Greta and I remember your original post from earlier this summer. I think you give a very accurate description of how important networking - whether it be through social media tools or otherwise - is important to genealogists!

  2. Greta,
    You did indeed strike a chord as many of us share your struggle to achieve balance between what we'd like to do and the actual number of hours in a day. I was pleased to read your comments about how your research becomes focused when your local society resumes meetings in the fall. I hope you'll make time to elaborate in the upcoming 82nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy:
    Breaking Into Society.

  3. Unfortunately my job has begun to get in the way of my blogging and research. I have not networked as much as in the past. Fortunately there are other family members out there that pop into my e-mail with some new information or photos, like the Stark ones that I featured in a blog last week.

  4. Thomas - Thanks for your continuing encouragement; it illustrates very well what I was trying to describe!

    Kathryn - I would love to participate in this next edition of the COG as I always love to toot the horn of the Fairfax Gen. Society.

    Linda - Work is sort of a double culprit - takes up the better part of our day, then leaves us tired when we would like to be doing research.