Strategies for Society Relevance

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

TO: Genealogy Societies

SUBJECT: Strategies for Society Relevance

Background ….
The impetus for writing this letter to genealogy societies comes from the understanding there is a paradigm shift in process in the world of genealogy and its participants. The specifics of this paradigm shift are dynamic and once pinned down, are highly subject to change. Research has led me to believe that due to our nature as genealogists, we don’t take the time to realize that some of the tools and methods used in the past are becoming outdated and irrelevant. Specifically a lot of the work of the past that we are very adept at preserving is not available to the new and upcoming genealogist who spends the majority of time dedicated to research on line searching, finding and evaluating the abundance of information available in databases on the internet. Currently there is a mass effort of digitizing data and information from repositories and providing that on line for the users. The time is coming that with exception of some legalistic and familial needs, travel to the “brick and mortar” repositories, and cemeteries’, along with purchase of written material will be outdated and reduced to a minimum usage. Of the several societies reviewed some are moving into the future addressing this paradigm shift, while others have yet to address this paradigm shift. A recent survey question, asked by New England Historic Genealogy of its membership, found that out of 4000+ respondents, 80% of them did more than 60% of their research on line. This phenomenon is indicative of the movement of genealogical research from a stuffy, boring, watching of the microfilm images slide by to finding the records wanted by simple indexes and database searches on line simply by typing in search criteria.. It seems that in the long run this style of research make that former antiquated and essentially a conversation piece that we family historians can say “Remember back when …”, in the telling of our own stories..

Strategies for moving forward ….
As developing technology is the nemesis of how genealogical research was done in the past, in other words reducing the need for written and typed information and/or images of same, for publication. By the way, technology has been most instrumental in the change of how records were kept for posterity, accessed, and used, from the times of writing on the cave walls to the times electronic means. This paradigm shifting is nothing new and we seem to be in the middle of a major today. So drawing from the past, with an eye to the future, and focusing on a dynamic outreach and influence for a society will require the following in various levels and degrees of concentrated effort. Where societies live and breath makes it an implicit requirement that computers, databases and the provisioning of information to users is in some way going be employed, and to some extent each of the following strategies can be utilized to meet that challenge.

1. Take stock of who you want to reach
2. Understand your recipients
3. Follow developing technology
4. Determine what offerings are desired
5. Develop & maintain means of reaching target recipient
6. Maintain means of reaching target recipients
7. Make decided offerings available for use on line
8. Determine method of payment if and as required.
Warm Regards in your moving forward.

George

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