Comments on Shauna Hicks’s talk re Online trends in Family History

As a fairly techno-competent family historian I didn’t expect to get so much from Shauna’s talk on Online Trends. I was wrong! Sure there were plenty of sites that I’ve used and love, but there were great insights into new ones and new strategies. I learnt what RSS was all about (not having bothered to find out before!) and promptly went home & linked Shauna’s webpage via RSS so I know when things change.

Even though I’m on Facebook I don’t really use it a lot nor had I felt inclined to twitter which always seemed a bit pointless. Once again I was wrong! Shauna’s tips revealed a wonderful world of up-to-the-minute bulletins of genealogical, historical and family history news. Looks like I might have acquired another obsession: -) I’m still figuring some things out about how to fully use twitter, not to mention the protocols, but it certainly is fun!

The benefits of general emails like yahoo and gmail were covered and people gasped when Shauna said she has six emails (I “only” have five). While I can see the benefits of keeping a generic email so you can change providers if you wish, my own preference is to keep a general email that I can “dump” if it gets spammed. It also meant I could screen who I could give which email to…I learnt the hard way with my old dial-up connection -far too many spam mails for obscene activities and viagra, even with a good security system. My plea is that people learn to use the Blind copy (BCC) facility on their email program when sending out bulk emails eg jokes etc. This limits where your email goes, or at least who can vacuum up your email.

I suppose many of us know the dangers of the internet but it amazes me how much personal information can be deduced from what’s on Facebook (for example) and probably also this blog.

Skype is great both in terms of cost-saving if family and friends are overseas or interstate and you don’t have a bulk package on your land-line. It also means you can use video links to see your family and grandchildren so you can see them grow and interact with them. You can even use it to have a live feed on the family’s new home by moving the laptop around the house to see the rooms.

I’m also a fan of RootsChat when you really can’t get to a records office or look at an original record. There are many kind souls who will help you out -BUT do make sure you pull your weight by doing as much as possible yourself first. It is your family history research after all.

I’m not much of a fan of Genes Reunited even thoughI’ve made some good contacts. I’m pathologically averse to people vacuuming up my information without even acknowledging my data and without responding or offering any information themselves. It’s really not courteous and definitely puts me off helping others until I test the waters. On the plus side, there are some serious researchers with whom you can work collaboratively.

Shauna’s talk was also a good reminder about how many learning resources for family history are “out there” on podcasts  -if one only (1) remembers to use them and (2) finds the time to get to them.  People with convicts might be interested in the podcast from The (UK) National Archives on Transportation to Australia Or their podcast on Apprenticeship records for family historians. Perhaps I should heed my own advice and go and listen to some!

All this and I’ve yet to learn more about, and explore, nings.

So check out Shauna’s talk on her website at and learn more about these exciting online trends.

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