Thursday, October 21, 2010

Genealogy Lesson 10 - Social Networking on Facebook, MySpace & Twitter

By now you should be pretty well versed in using the Internet.  It can be a powerful tool for finding information about your ancestors.  You have to be careful what you take for fact as anyone can write anything online.  Use common sense and try to find primary sources for any "facts" you find stated on the web.
One of the great internet advances of the past few years has been social networking.  Sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter allow you to easily communicate with family and friends.  I can keep up with what my distant cousins are doing and it takes little effort on either of our parts.  These services are free and can do wonders for your research network.
Of the three, Facebook is the most dominant right now.  MySpace was really big a few years ago but it seems too commercial for me - full of ads.  Twitter is something totally different so I will address that last.
The basic premise of Facebook and MySpace is the same.  You create a homepage about yourself by writing a small bio and can even add a few pictures.  After setting up your page, you then go about finding other people that you know and become their "friend."  You can thereafter see when they update items on their page and they can also see your updates.  This notification system allows you to keep up with lots of people in an automated fashion.
Twitter is very basic.  You set up a homepage and all it requires is that you answer one question..."What are you doing right now?"  You can only type 140 characters per message and what you write is broadcast to all of your followers (sorta like your Facebook friends).  Facebook and MySpace have a similar feature but they are called "status updates."  Twitter messages are called "Tweets."
Now how does this related to genealogy?  Set up a page and invite all of your genealogy contacts to be friends.  It is great way to keep in touch and to share new discoveries.  You can offer as little or as much information about yourself as you like.  Some people feel the need to tell the world that they just brushed their teeth.  (I am serious...people tell you things like that).
Go ahead and try them out and it will not cost you anything as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are free.  They make money from sponsors so you do not have to pay anything.  Your genealogy network will start to grow before you know it.

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