Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why I Blog

When I started blogging last August, I had a short list of purposes for my blog which I enumerated in the first post, “Goals of this Blog.” That short list actually boiled down to one main reason: to share information with others researching (or at least interested in) the same families.

And then something interesting started to happen. The motivations for the blog have grown and evolved during its existence and now constitute a longer and more complex list, which I have boiled down into a Letterman formula of 10:

10. An outlet for the technogeek: I love all the widgets, gadgets, and other whizbang features. I am someone who is sadly lacking in technology talent, but for a few brief minutes now and then can indulge in the illusion (however unjustified) of technological competence through the wonders of Blogger and the fantastic advice of people like Thomas MacEntee.

9. An outlet for the visual artist (OK, pretty limited): picking the colors and frills (not too much done there) and even, thanks to Thomas’ virtually foolproof instructions, creating a banner for the blog.

8. An outlet for written expression: To provide a little bit of amusement, enjoyment, and information to my readers, and for myself, possibly a bit of venting, gloating, commiserating, or just a written form of the “happy dance.”

7. A way to keep my family (not just “distant” cousin researchers, but the cousins I grew up with, for instance) up to date on family research without having to send out repetitive e-mails. I can also share family pictures this way and perhaps prod my relatives’ memories.

6. A way to organize and evaluate my research and see the information gaps and logic lapses. The first time I wrote a couple of articles for one of those county genealogy society books, I realized I would have to do something similar for all of my “serious” research. Some of the problems I can see myself, while for other problems I rely on feedback and advice from readers.

5. A forum for recording memories, sharing and analyzing pictures, etc. that I would be too lazy or disorganized to do otherwise.

4. A way of sharing tips and techniques and soliciting help with brick walls. This is still a biggie. I often think of the genea-blogging community as an informal University of Genealogy: the learning can be intense, but it is always enjoyable.

3. A way to share in the community of genealogy people (and people in associated areas and “subcultures” – graveyard preservation & research, photographic restoration, and “living history,” to name just a few). Sometimes having fun, sometimes encouraging one another and spurring one another to dig just a little deeper in that research, but always participating in the camaraderie of people who share our obsession.

2. A way to get in touch with other researchers and share information. This is still high on my list, even though I know that I have to keep “investing” even when I can’t see any immediate “returns” on this investment. We have to remember that this is a long-term goal and not get discouraged. Just like the inquiries we post in various forums, we may not realize this goal until months and years after we have posted the relevant information.

1. The most important reason may be one we do not realize at the time we start our blogs. A few days ago, I was contacted via e-mail by someone who had read my post on my father’s Air Force unit … and realized that we might be related. That person was my younger half-brother, whom I have not seen nor been in contact with since he was a month old. This reason alone, even if all the other criteria I have listed had not been met, would be enough to justify the existence of this blog and all the time and effort I have put into it. I’m still floating.

The point of this post is this: we may start out with certain goals and purposes in writing our blogs, but I am convinced that these reasons will evolve and that what actually makes our blogs useful and worthwhile may surprise us in the end. We all have to take breaks from time to time and we cannot let the blogs get in the way of family time or regular research. However, no matter how many readers, comments, and responses we get or do not get, we derive a benefit from the writing itself.

From other bloggers I am learning how to write, how to approach analyzing pictures, how to focus my research, how to get my pathetic and messy genealogy files organized … you name it, some genea-blogger out there has some great advice on it. Someone mentioned that they do not get as many comments on pure research articles as on general-interest articles. While I may not always have a pertinent comment to make, I do look at other bloggers’ research reports, especially if we have a particular geographical area of research or type of research problem in common. I am getting decently competent at digging things up, but I can always learn more, and I definitely have a long way to go in learning how to present that research, in terms of both organization and readability. The genea-blogging community is full of people who are superbly talented in that area, not just among the “pros” and “old-timers,” but among the newer bloggers as well (one example I can cite just off the top of my head is Patti Browning’s Consanguinity – I just discovered this “newish” blog and am enjoying it immensely).

If this sounds like a lot of rah-rah for the genea-blogging community, well, it is. Not everyone is going to find a long-lost brother, but … you never know what you will find, whether it is today or five years from now.


  1. Greta:

    This connection, this gift of the internet, is what we all live for.

    I could not be more pleased for you. You are a terrific addition to the geneablogging community.

    More! More! More!


  2. Greta,

    Congratulations on connecting with your half-brother!

    I agree with you on all points - they are why I and many others are blogging our family history. Very well said!!

  3. Greta, I certainly agree with all of your reasons! Although I may not have found a half-brother, I agree that your "reasons" may change as you continue on the journey. Thanks for sharing. Donna

  4. I agree with your statement “We may start out with certain goals and purposes in writing our blogs, but I am convinced that these reasons will evolve and that what actually makes our blogs useful and worthwhile may surprise us in the end.”

    I have been blogging just a little over a year and I did write some goals. However, like other blogs, my blog has evolved into something totally different than I imagined. I intended to mainly write about my family. I have done this too, but have discovered so many wonderful people, other topics (technology and historical), as well as my own personal memories (Memory Mondays).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogging.

  5. Greta!!!!

    You got in touch with your long-lost brother! How fantastic! Pardon the exclamation point overkill but I can't express my glee any better. I dream of the day that one of my half-aunts or uncles -- or better yet, the son my mother gave up for adoption when she was a teen -- contacts me through my blog. I'm so happy for you. You'll have to give us the scoop in a later post!

    Thank you for your kind words about my blog as well. I'm glad to know someone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

    Now to get to work on letting my cousins know my blog exists.....

  6. Hi Greta,

    This is a wonderful post!
    Congrats on connecting with your half-brother.

    It's so hard (for me) to keep up with all of the great genea-blogs. I'm glad I didn't miss this one.

    "Guided by the Ancestors"

  7. I feel so humble - you guys are the ones I learn from! And I'm so glad you can share my joy at finding my family. I'll tell you, almost from the first day, family research has been a big adventure!

  8. I totally agree with all our reasons to blog Greta. Of late, I have been a bit obsessive with it. How did you do your banner? Maybe I need to get in touch with Thomas, too! AND, thanks for all your great comments on my blogs. I really appreciate your input.

  9. Linda, if you look on Bootcamp for Geneabloggers, one of the posts describes how to do the banner; it's at http://fbbootcamp.blogspot.com/search?q=banner. Good luck! (If I was able to do it, I'm sure you can!)

  10. All great reasons, especially the possibility of making connections. Congratulation on yours!

    I purposely keep my blog loos in focus because I want the room to let it grow where it may. Thanks for posting this.

  11. Thanks, Amy. Hope you are enjoying your conference in LV, despite the courthouse problems. I have some family there, by the way.

  12. Greta,

    Genea-Bloggers are a moral and educational support network that is priceless.

    I am glad that you are a part of it!

  13. An excellent article!

    Many of your reasons apply to me as well.

    I have been blogging since 2002 (1st personal blog retired in 2007, 2nd Blog born in 2003, on cycling, is alive and well), and while my my current personal blog is not all Genealalogy, all the time, I have much to offer any one looking for writing prompts, and other things.

    In the last 2 months I've begun to make connections with the wider Genealogy Community, thru blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, and I think those 2, in joining blogging as tools for sharing stories, advice, links and information, as well as ways to pass on encouragement to each other, are changing the way we research, and share our research, from the newbie to the expert.

    Kiril The Mad Macedonian

    Digging up roots in the family garden since the late-1980's, but still very much a newbie!


  14. Thanks Kiril. I have really been enjoying your blog - Eastern European background and a cat with his own blog - fantastic!