We’ve learned a lot about traditional genealogy sources and strategies, both online and off, during this course. But an interesting question that occurred to me was: “How will our children (and grandchildren) do genealogy about us, most of whom came of age during the birth of the Internet?” I just want to ask before I go to the next slide – does anyone know a young man named Andrew Mullen who died in August in Windsor?
I found a link to a person’s home page on a message board I visit regularly. The person had posted a story about a recently discovered Louis Riel poem and I was curious to find out where he was from. When I got to the home page, I realised that it was either the blog of a young man who had recently died and was now being kept up by a wife or a parent or the already-existing blog of one of those people that had become a spot to commemorate the deceased. A bit more reading revealed that it was indeed the blog of Andrew’s father which had changed focus from an art blog to a spot for the father to write about and pass along the writings of his son.
As we learned early in this class, the Internet is perfect for genealogy. It allows access without consideration or either time or space. Multiple people can access the same resource simulteanously. Records can be made available as text, images and increasingly, sound and even video. There is often little or no cost to access these resources. And so on… As we just saw, increasingly, even death does not stop the flow of information about an individual that is produced. Similar to the story of Andrew Mullen, I’m reminded of the blog of a young man who worked at the World Trade Centre. He was killed on 9/11 and his blog was taken over by his parents after that event as a way to commemorate their son and even to do good work in his name by setting up a foundation.
Just as we know the Internet is perfect for genealogy, we’ve also heard about many of its best genealogy resources. Ancestry.com Census Records Church of Latter Day Saints Church Records Other Government Records – Federal, Provincial, Municipal Web Site Aggregators (Cyndi’s, etc.)
Or as I mentioned earlier, how might your children and grandchildren find out information about you in ten years or twenty years or fifty years?
The growth of the Internet has slowed a bit in North America but continues to grow exponentially on a worldwide basis. There are hundreds of millions of web pages now online covering all manner of topics.
68% of young people aged 13-18 have an account on a so-called “social networking” web site. MySpace and Facebook in particular are replacing e-mail and instant messaging as a method of communicating for young people (MySpace = teens, Facebook = college-aged) People in this age group (called “The Millennials”) have lived their entire lives with both computers and the Internet. They lead digital lives that are as real to them as their physical lives.
You might not think of yourself as a “techie” or spend much time on the Internet. But you have a “digital footprint” whether you realise it or not. For some, it’s a conscious decision to put themselves online via blogs, message boards, even dating site profiles. For others, it’s unintentional footprints – school newsletters, university, work web sites. Posts on other people’s blogs. Uploaded photos tagged with the names of people in the photos. It’s important to realise that once you put something online, it’s impossible to erase. 33% of employers use search engines to find out about candidates, 10% now use social networking sites.
I have to admit, I thought of calling this presentation “An Introduction to Stalking” which is kind of what it is when you’re dealing with people who are still alive as opposed to ancestors who are long gone. I’m sure we’ve all Googled ourselves (and doesn’t that sound dirty!) But that means anyone else can Google us too. For example, with only a few minutes of basic Google searches, I found out that 15/20 of us have a very easily found reference to us. 7/20 have an image. The intentional footprints were left by people on blogs, personal web sites, Facebook The unintentional footprints were mostly on organizations, university sites, former workplaces With Google and a bit of time, you too could find out the following: Which of your fellow students sing in a choir? Which ones were high school badminton champions? Which ones won UWO scholarships? Which ones won a CLA Award? Where do people live? Where have they lived? And lots more…
All of these photos of classmates were found online. I do apologize if anyone is offended by me displaying their photo but I did want to reinforce that this information is out there for anyone to find.
That’s just Google. Other sites can provide more info with a bit more digging. Social Networking Sites (Facebook, MySpace) Dating Sites Photo Sites (Flickr) Blogs (Blogger, LiveJournal) Other Search Engines (Alexa, Technorati) Message Boards/Usenet “ Net Leaders” (Ebay, Digg, Amazon) Virtual Worlds (SecondLife, WoW)
I knew… Your home province Your educational background Your interests Your 505 assignments & the Stalker Pages But anyone researching you such as your children would presumably know this information and more.
People with common names Nicknames, maiden names, alternate names Mistaken identity People whose digital presence is always by pseudonym (though this doesn’t always protect you) Inaccurate (or false) information Liz, did you know you’re a world-famous biology researcher with that highest of compliments, your own Wikipedia page? Or Jeremie, that you’re an award-winning Quebecois author? I actually had what I thought was a high school track photo of someone in this class but luckily asked the person who said it was a cousin and they get mixed up all the time.
“ The President Problem” - Facebook booze photos, MySpace “Why Were You So Skanky Grandma?” Vast range of information and yet very hard to confirm anything with a secondary source. Accuracy of presentation – both by the individual and by others. Transitory nature is a huge issue right now. So is proprietary nature of some information. Privacy/Security – very important! Once it’s out there, it’s out there.
Your Digital Footprint *will* get larger as… You enter the workforce You volunteer Or simply, as time goes by and the Net becomes even more of a factor in our daily lives.
Just as the Internet revolutionized so many areas including genealogy, the continued pace and scope of technological advancement means that the amount of information people interested in finding out about us (and that includes both stalkers today and our grandchildren tomorrow!) will also grow exponentially. For you specifically, your job in the library (or even as an entreprenuer) will be more about helping people navigate non-traditional genealogy resources to accomplish this (and also to act as a bridge for non-techie users in general. Think of the second most common question at the reference desk – ‘can you help me with the printer/computer/Internet connection?” (The first, of course, being, “Where’s the bathroom?”)
Tagging (ie. Facebook Photos) Better Search (speed and scope) Personalized Search New, Better Technologies (facial recognition, voice recognition) New, Better Services (things we haven’t even imagined yet) The Invisible Web Becomes Visible Web 3.0 - Volunteer Power! WikiOgraphy Virtual Genealogist Consultants (Reputation Defender) Because as time goes by, new online services we can’t even imagine will become available. Technology will continue to improve. Really, who knows? The Internet is in its infancy, having been mainstream for barely a decade. Web 1.0 was retrieval. Web 2.0 that we know now is about interactivity. Web 3.0 (or the Semantic Web) is developing at this moment. If I upload this presentation to my blog and tag it, I’m helping create it. If I upload the digital photos I took of the class for an earlier presentation on digitization to Facebook and add your names, suddenly all of you have a visual web presence. I don’t have enough time to get into the good and bad effects of this but it should be pretty obvious. Good = people can be found, bad = people can be found.
How do you help your children and grandchildren to know about you? Become digital! One thing you should do anyhow is keep up with new technology. We don’t always think of ourselves this way but libraries have always been a sector that has been on the cutting edge of technology and that continues to this day. I’d highly recommend starting a blog as one way that you can provide a digital record of who you are, what you thought and did. If you are nervous about putting information of this type about yourself online (and you might rightfully be), another option is to create a single, password protected document that provides a record of your digital footprint – sites you frequent, user names and passwords you use. It’s time consuming but you could also record your online transactions – when you post to a message board, copy it into this file along with the date and perhaps some contextual information. Put the name of this file and its password in your will so that your children will find it when you’re gone. It’s a long running problem in genealogy that we don’t realise the value of the resources available to us – in terms of our actual living ancestors – until they’re gone. Creating a digital record of this type will help the process of capturing that information, perhaps even for those of you who don’t even have children yet.
What genealogy is really about is finding out who you are by finding out who your ancestors were. Now with the Internet, more than ever before, you can intentionally (or unintentonally) leave information about yourself – in the form of text, audio and even video – that will give your own descendents a vivid picture of who you were and what your life was like.
Your Digital Footprint: How Will Your Children and Grandchildren Do Genealogy Research About You?
Your Digital Footprint:Non-Traditional Genealogy Sources & Strategies on the Internet Jason Hammond LIS763 – Genealogy November 22, 2006
Andrew Charles Mullen May 1982 – Aug 2006• Andrew introduces himself on a web based game site: “My real name is Andrew. I currently live with my long-time girlfriend in Windsor, ON. Canada but am originally from a small city by the name of Sault Ste. Marie, ON…I live an average life in this average world and am currently content with that. For now at least.”• “I added Andrew’s death to his entry in the family history tonight. I started researching the family history about 5 years ago in order to give my sons a link to where we came from.”• A youtube video tribute from his friends and his brother.