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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Problem with Web 2.0

Okay, so I have to say that I like a lot of the new options provided by Web 2.0 applications which give you the opportunity to work with other people to navigate the web and share information. Wikis are great fun (I love Wikipedia), and I think that blogging has a place as well. Here's my dilemma though. Mostly, I disagree with people about popular culture. For example, I just visited Digg.com. Among their top stories with 174 Diggs was this one about Hayden Panettiere in a See Through Dress. I find this distressing. Am I alone?

Maybe part of the problem is that Web 2.0 is mostly catering to a younger crowd than me (oh dear, I'm aging myself). Are there stats about this? Well, I know that MySpace is dominated by a younger crowd.

Still, I'm a snob about other things as well. The popular books that are on the New York Times bestseller list? Most don't appeal. So maybe the problem is with me! Feel free to consider me a snob about these sorts of things.

How does this relate back to genealogy? Well, I did a quick look at the bookmarks under the tag "genealogy" on del.icio.us. I am really just concerned about the trend toward social networking for family history and genealogy. In my experience, published information about family trees, etc. is best taken with a grain of salt... and sometimes a lot more than a grain or with another kind of substance altogether. As an example, especially of this latter, see this article from TechDirt about fake family trees.

In general, I just worry that people aren't sharing their sources, and aren't doing the kind of quality work that can really be relied upon. This is also why I hated group projects as a student.

And, yes, I know about glass houses. There is certainly stuff on this web site that I have my doubts about. And nearly all of it came from secondary published genealogies or the sort of social networking that I am now railing against. If I could go back to my high school self and give her a stern talking to about this, I would. In the meantime, I am simply doing my best to correct these things whenever possible.

And I know that sometimes this isn't possible. For example, in my Asa Hamlin's Father story, I show how I looked for primary sources to verify Lura Hamlin's parentage, but all I have been able to find so far is in a secondary source... a local history. Still, this information seems more reliable than many other secondary sources I've seen.

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