Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Living on line with genealogy as a theme

I fully realize that I am what is known as "plugged-in." Of course, we have the traditional land line phone and the cable TV bundle of land line, cable and Internet access. But that is just the start. We actually have five different phone numbers because we also have two cell phones and separate work phones. The iPhone enables be to have 24/7 Internet with email and text as well as voice mail. Oh, don't forget our six email addresses and Google Talk and Google+ and Facebook and Twitter and Skype and Instant Messenger and iChat and, and, ummm? Maybe I have forgotten something.

Oh, what about the three active and four inactive blogs, plus TechTalk and GenealogyWise. Don't forget the LinkedIn account and all of the blogs on my Google Reader. I try to keep that to something reasonable but the number of blogs just keeps growing. Once and while, I actually talk to some one in person, think of that.

I was working at the Mesa Regional Family History Center today when a patron came in and started a conversation at the reference desk. She characterized herself as totally a non-computer person. The other reference desk person looked and me as if to say, you probably don't need to talk to this person, I will handle it. Guess what? Anything I would have said would likely be inappropriate. Is there such a thing as too much? Yep, and I passed that point a long time ago. One of my acquaintances was introducing me and referred to me as one of the most computer-aware old people he had met.  Later, I told him about a few of my online activities and he was very embarrassed at having referred to me as a older person.

Guess what? I am in no way unique. I have a whole circle of friends and some family members who live online at the same rate that I do.

So what's the point? I spend a lot of time explaining technology to people new to genealogy and computers. But more than that, I spend a lot of time helping people who already know a lot about computers and online resources learn more. If you haven't noticed we are a long way into what is commonly called the information age or information revolution and genealogy is squarely centered on the explosion of both communication technology and information availability. Even though the list of online connections seems confusing, it is really quite manageable. When you deal in information, writing blogs, writing books, providing online support, editing and maintaining the FamilySearch Research Wiki, and all of my other related activities, the tools of your trade are streams of information coming from a huge spectrum of sources. No one would think me excessive if, as an attorney, I spent 10 or more hours a day in court or writing briefs and motions. When I shifted my emphasis from law to genealogy, I naturally adopted the same work pattern and kept at it ten or more hours a day.

I also look at some of my contemporaries, the blogging folks, and wonder how they spend so much time and produce so much content. I am no where near the likes of a Dick Eastman or a Randy Seaver or any other of a dozen or more bloggers I could name. I find that having a selection of electronic devices and methods of connecting allows me the flexibility to keep working all day, instead of wasting time waiting in lines, and other such activities. When I was first practicing law, I was literally chained to the desk. If I went anywhere, I was out of touch and losing time. Once I got wired in, I could word from the supermarket or eating hot dog at Costco. Having that connection freed me from sitting at my desk all the time. Now, it allows me to do a lot more with my time than I could otherwise. When I am at the computer, I can write, do research, investigate and still carry on all of those activities to some extent no matter where I am physically located.

Genealogy is now high tech. Just keeping up with a some of the changes is almost a full-time job. Electronics allow me to do other things and still make progress in genealogy.

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