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SOCIAL NETWORKING AND GENEALOGY

Most genealogists and family historians dream of someday compiling and publishing their years of research for their children, children's children, near and distant cousins, and so on. Rather than wait until your research is done (which it never really is), you can now easily create a living website to grow, share, and expand your family's histories in ways that fulfill your needs and wants. Next-generation genealogy sites (referred to as Genealogy 2.0) use advanced social computing and networking technologies like wikis, RSS, podcasts, blogs, mapping, and online family tree building to help people connect with family members and other researchers – sort of MySpace or Facebook for families.
 

GOING SOCIAL, OR NOT

Family history researchers put a lot of time and effort into creating their family trees, and some wish to share their information for other researchers, sometimes for free. There are many organizations which allow you to post a family history for free, such as RootsWeb. Others charge for the same services. One solution, if you are fairly well-versed in web design, is to have a free web hosting service host your family tree.

Facebook is one of the leading social networking sites. Although they don't have any specific applications for genealogy research, they do have several groups dedicated to genealogy and family history. The only stipulation required in order to use the social network group is to create a Facebook user profile; whatever personal information you put into it and who has access to that information is up to you.

One caveat regarding posting personal information online – protecting the privacy of yourself and others. Some sites will allow you to post information about everyone in your family tree, including persons still living. This presents a perfect target for identity thieves. Before you upload your family information to a website, first check their terms of service for privacy protection. If you are using a genealogy application like Personal Ancestral File (see Help Tip #5), it allows you to automatically create a website of your family information. Be sure when you configure it to create the website, make it hide personal information for all living persons.


RECOMMENDED READING

For further in-depth infomation about the technology of social networking and genealogy, read the following book:

Social Networking for Genealogists by Drew Smith; Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009.
ISBN: 978-0-8063-1795-3
Library Call Number: 929.1 SMITH
This book goes into detail about the various aspects of social networking for genealogists, and includes information on several resources that allow individuals to connect online and post information to share with others. Well-written and easy to understand, even for newbies.


For infomation regarding the combination of social networking and genealogy, both good and bad, check the following websites:

Social Networking and Family Trees - basic description from About.com.

I'm on Facebook: So Now What? - a blog about the nuances of combining genealogy and social networking.

TNG Resources - next-generation genealogy site building.

GenealogyWise - a social networking site for genealogists.

© 2010 Joe Defazio, Uncle Joe's Genealogy


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