Sunday, January 3, 2010

Looking back at 2009

It's been almost a year since I completed the manuscript for Social Networking for Genealogists, but of course during that year, the world didn't stand still. Existing social networking tools continued to develop, while new ones appeared and genealogists began to use them.
  • Twitter took off near the beginning of 2009, and continues to be an item for discussion both outside and within the genealogical community. The mailing list of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) had a number of discussions about the ethics and legalities of "tweeting" during a genealogical presentation. It remains somewhat difficult for me to determine what significant impact, if any, Twitter will have on genealogical research. Twitter's strengths seem to come out during live events, so we may expect it to be used during genealogical conferences, especially for attendees to let others know where they are and what they are doing.
  • Genealogy Wise (I'm often tempted to write it as a single word, due to the way that it's logo kerns the "W" so close to the word "Genealogy"), affectionately known as "GW", exploded into existence in the summer of 2009, and as I write this, it has more than 16,000 members. It's an ideal replacement for those who want something similar to Facebook without all the non-genealogy aspects, although I'm sure that many people use both Facebook and GW. When I find more time to work on my personal genealogy, I expect that I'll start spending some time on GW, so that I can network with the other genealogists working the same geographic areas.
  • Google teased us all with a presentation of Google Wave at a developers conference in late May 2009. But it wasn't until early November that I received my own invitation to try Google Wave, and during the November-December time period, I actually used it with a number of my library colleagues to plan and implement a new website for the USF Tampa Library. It was certainly a learning experience! What worked best was that it took all of the communication away from my overburdened e-mailbox, and made it possible to mix synchronous (real-time chat-style) communication with asynchronous (e-mail/message board-style) communication in the same threads. I really see this one as an interesting and useful tool for small groups, such as genealogy society boards/committees, genealogy event planners, and researchers working the same person/lines.

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