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

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The move from Facebook to LinkedIn

It is interesting to note trends in the online world. Lately, I have been getting about 10 to 1 invitations to LinkedIn over Facebook. In fact, I am getting more LinkedIn notifications than I ever got with Facebook. It is also interesting to see how the LinkedIn website is evolving into a general social networking website instead of a "profession oriented" specialty website. Of course, most of the connections are business related, but the type of message activity has shifted to a more personal nature.

Now on to genealogy, trying to stay on task here. I consider myself as an "outsider" to social networking. I am not a daily active responder to the stream of comments on Facebook and never have been. I am certainly not looking for a job through LinkedIn and do not consider myself in the active job networking market. What I do see is that social networking allows people, who otherwise never see each other, to "keep in touch." It does gives the participants a sense of community. That also works well for genealogists of all levels and interests. The connections made have been genealogically productive in a real sense and not just on a trivial level.

What I don't see on LinkedIn is that same sense of community. The business oriented nature of the website seems to filter out much that would be genealogically valuable. It becomes a way to communicate, but I do not get the same connection with a "community" on LinkedIn that I get on Google+ or Facebook. Partially, that comes from the request to connect on LinkedIn from people who are obviously motivated to promote their business. Hence, I get a lot of requests to connect from lawyers and professionals who I have never met and never expect to have any contact with.

An interesting development on LinkedIn is its association with the Pulse newsfeed website. It is very unclear where either Pulse or LinkedIn are going with this connection. See for an example of what I am talking about. One effect of this however, is that LinkedIn is beginning to look a lot more like Facebook.

In all of this online chatter, it is important to establish some threshold attention filters. This isn't anything that needs to be set on your computer, this is something that needs to be set in your head. You simply need to set limits as to what will and what will not get your attention. Otherwise, you can lose a great deal of time looking at interesting but totally irrelevant garbage.

Will LinkedIn become a productive genealogy tool? Right now, it seems that it will not. It will become professionally useful, but not for communication about families and ancestry. It may evolve into a more Facebook type venue and that could change very rapidly. I do not see much of a movement towards LinkedIn working for the very young online crowd right now either.


  1. The best ways to use LinkedIn for genealogy are to connect with other genealogists starting with those you know, and to join genealogy groups. I've enjoyed a number of discussions in the Genealogical and Historical Research group, and there are many others available. Just type genealogy in the search bar at the top of the page, then choose whether you want to find other people who list genealogy as a skill, or groups that are about genealogy. Some groups are open to anyone who wants to join, others are closed, which means you submit a request to join and the group leader(s) will check to make sure you are someone with a genuine interest in genealogy.

    1. Thanks for the clarification. As I suspected the move is towards turning LinkedIn into a social networking program a la Facebook and Google+

  2. Groups have been a part of LinkedIn for quite some time. The trend, which is, so far as I know, initiated by users/members, has as you observe, moved from primarily business interests toward personal interests. Although, one could argue that since many genealogists have businesses selling their genealogical services, that genealogy is still a business interest. However, I agree that other changes, in particular the addition of a chat feature and the encouragement to wish people "happy birthday," to congratulate them on various work-related anniversaries or promotions, and to share news and stories, have truly moved LinkedIn into a more social platform.

  3. I'm not convinced it's as much of a LinkedIn trend as a genealogist trend. More and more of us are looking for a place to share interest and content and are catching on to something that's been available for a while.