04 December 2010

Mailing Lists, Facebook and Farmville - Taking Inventory of Your Research Toolbox

This week a mailing list I subscribe to had an interesting discussion: Does Facebook have a place in genealogy research? The response from the subscribers on the list surprised me. While I expected some people not to be interested in Facebook I was surprised that some found little to no value in what Facebook had to offer.

While Facebook will never replace 'boots on the ground' research it does offer the people doing family research a chance to connect with LIVING people. Sometimes I think that genealogists forget that searching and finding living people can be just as important as finding their ancestors.

Using Facebook or any other social networking platform allows genealogists to reconnect with their immediate family and find distant cousins. I have reconnected with many first cousins that I have not seen for over 40 years. I have also 'met' second and third cousins who have helped me round out family stories and identify people in family pictures.

Will Facebook replace Rootsweb, Ancestry.Com or FootNote? No, but it does allow us to draw people in who do not consider themselves genealogists, but may have information and artifacts that may enhance or jumpstart our research.

Think about it - do you know where that family bible is that you have always heard about... It could be in the attic of a distant relative who could care less about genealogy, but loves playing Farmville.

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  1. Family history researchers who automatically ruling out social networking are missing the boat when it comes to adding to the family tree. Because of social networking, in the last three days, I've received scans of photographs of two sets of great-great grandparents. I've received dozens of other photographs and documents of other family members of our common ancestors. Several of these have been the direct result of Facebook. Social media works in aiding genealogy research, plain and simple.

  2. I found facebook a security hazard. It tried to raid my addressbook. No doubt to me in order to sell my information. I get plish mail labelled from cousin for all sorts of "snake oil" the are all on facebook.

    People put way to much personal information on facebook (that is the WWW-world wide web,) things they would not tell their mother. Now we read corporations check facebook before hiring people and pediphiles troll facebook for new friends.

    But maybe I am old-fashion, I also think driving a multi-ton vehicle while talking on a mobile telephone is dangerous . . . just it is done all the time.

  3. I agree there are lots of pros and cons out there about FB. James M. Fritz will discuss his method of using FB to connect with family this Saturday at our meeting. He says the key is your security settings. This is a very timely topic.

  4. Facebook did try to harvest my address book when I signed up. Somehow I was able to stop that. I think it worked since I don't have that many 'friends' but I did not like them digging for it.
    There are also viruses that develop on Facebook with the windows operating system and if your friend asks you for something out of the ordinary, delete it. I only have friends that I personally know and I am sticking to that standard. Some of the younger ones have 'sent' me a request that seems strange and had posts on their wall that are strange. Turns out those things are a virus. I also do not play the 'ville' games or any game for that matter. I use Facebook for the simple purpose of keeping up with friends and news on select special interest sites that post to Facebook. So far it has worked very well using a 'healthy dose of skepticism' along the way.
    Yes, employers check the website.