Monday, 10 October 2011
What this means for me is that if I have an idea for a post I start writing it. If the post is more about pictures then I'll upload and place the pictures and put in placeholders for the text in between. If it's more about explaining how to do something I'll start writing the explanation, with perhaps a picture or two to illustrate the explanation. If I'm telling a story I'll start writing the story without worrying about whether it has a proper beginning and end. If the post is a list of steps to take or points to watch out for I'll start writing the list, or the explanation of what the list is.
I don't have to finish it. Sometimes I'm too tired, or have something else to do, or I don't really know how to finish it.
When I come back to it later it is usually very easy to clean up and finish one of these posts. I have at least a dozen half-finished posts in draft mode at any one time. Some of them I may never finish, or I might rewrite in an entirely different way. Others will be a great relief to me when I think I should publish something but don't have any ideas. The ideas are already there, waiting for me.
Monday, 3 October 2011
Blog posts are a snapshot in time. Just as a photograph can tell you a lot about someone, so can a blog post, even when they talk about seemingly trivial things. Even memes, those things that seem to go around like a craze in primary school, can be meaningful.
I have been sorting through old drafts that were never published, and I found this one from October 2008:
Ten years ago I was:None of this will have any significance for anyone outside of my family, I suspect. For my close family, however, it may mean a great deal. Not only does it say to anyone who is interested some details of my past and present life, but it has some bearing on other events that had great significance.
Five things on today's to-do list:
- Working on the implementation of a new computer system to prepare for Y2K
- Sharing our new house with my sister's family until theirs was ready to move into
- Wondering how long my mother's new marriage would last (not long)
- Planting Australian natives in the garden
- Spending too much money
Five snacks I enjoy:
- Give the cat his antibiotics (done)
- Call my Dad to see how my step-mother is doing (trying)
- Go and see my step-mother in hospital
- Meet an old friend for lunch (will do)
- Do some neglected housework (not done)
Five places I have lived (in no particular order):
- My sister's brownies
- A banana, or some grapes
- dry-roasted cashews
- Did I mention my sister's brownies?
Five jobs I have had:
- Beautiful leafy Hornsby in Sydney's northern suburbs (for the last 20-odd years)
- Dubbo in Central Western New South Wales (where I grew up)
- A flat in Rockdale in Sydney's south (while I was at uni)
- A semi-detached house in inner-city Stanmore (when I was finishing uni and starting work)
- Suva, Fiji (for about 6 months when I was 12)
Five places I would like to visit:
- Salesgirl at Woolworths Variety when I was 14 or 15
- Sales assistant at Angus and Robertson book store in Dubbo between school and uni
- Bar attendant at a couple of southern Sydney pubs while I was at uni
- Clerk for the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs for a couple of years when I finished uni
- Computer programmer at the gas company
- Ireland - Northern Ireland and the Republic
- The National Archives of Fiji
- Namibia (again)
I suspect that I didn't finish the post because of what was going on at the time. I did talk to my Dad about how my step-mother was doing, and I went to see her in hospital every day and sat with her while my sister, her daughter, raced home to get things done. We moved her home when the hospital could no longer do anything for her, and after a few days she passed away, in her own bed with her family around her. Only 11 days after I wrote this.
It still hurts that she was taken so soon. 60 is young, these days. Her father lived much, much longer.
I also remember meeting the old friend for lunch. He told me a trick to do with parking near the hospital before the afternoon peak hour.
It was a shock to read through this post after all this time. I thought I would share it with my family, and anyone else who is interested.
[This post was first published on Social Media and Genealogy on 21 December 2010.]
I think Tumblr is a great platform for a blog. You can share enormous photos, links and news, and the format is large and easy to read. It's perfect for a family historian who doesn't want to do a lot of writing, or only occasionally.
Here is an example of a Tumblr blog (mine):
If you click on the picture you will go to my Tumblr blog.
What does this have to do with family history?
Now this is a personal blog and it's not just about genealogy, so I need you to use your imagination a bit. Imagine you can
- share a few pictures of historic photos or documents
- tell a few stories about what you have in your collection
- tell stories about what other researchers have found to solve their research problems
- explain what your society does
- have a link over on the side to let people know where you are and how they can join
You can also reblog the posts of other people, to create more interest, although I wouldn't go overboard with this. There is someone on Tumblr called librarianista who shares magnificent photos of libraries (and cafes near libraries, such as the one above). There are historic photos and retro fashion photos, all of which can add interest to a family history society blog, to encourage people to think about the context of the ancestors' lives.
The more popular blog sites are Blogger and Wordpress, and these are the best if you want a lot of control over the layout of the words and smaller pictures within the text. This blog, for example, is written in Wordpress.
The advantage of Tumblr is its ease of use and the fantastic way it displays images. They are BIG. Images are what get people in, no matter what the post, but if the blog is mostly images people will stay and look, and keep looking. And that's what you want.
What, share all our photos for free???
I have heard the argument many times from family history societies - why would we give away our images for free on a blog? I am not proposing you put everything up there. Just a sample is enough. After all, you are not going to attract people to the society to see the photos you have if no one knows they are there.
Once you have a blog, you need to link it to your society website, and vice versa. The point of a blog for a society or library, in the end, is to get people interested enough to go to the website for more information, and perhaps to join.
This post was inspired by this post at Mashable about using Tumblr for non-profits. Whenever I see
something about 'non-profits' I think 'societies'. You can read the post at http://mashable.com/2011/09/16/tumblr-non-profits/.
After writing this post I came over all enthusiastic and created a new blog on Tumblr called Social Media and Genealogy http://socialmediagen.tumblr.com/ to demonstrate a bit of what I am talking about. It's more for family historians than societies, but it may give you a better idea of what such a blog could look like than the ones that are there now.
[This post was previously published on 17th September 2011 on my Social Media and Genealogy blog.