Sunday, April 3, 2011

Who reads all these genealogy blogs anyway?

James Tanner of Genealogy's Star posed this question in his blog post today: Who reads all these genealogy blogs anyway? 

James, I read genealogy blogs; lots of them.

James' question made me think of the (costly to produce and distribute) journal that I received this week from a genealogy society. It contained a few feature articles, some resource reviews, a list of recent library acquisitions, 29 pages devoted to annual president's and financial reports etc. I should imagine that the production of this journal on its shiny paper chews up a major portion of the Society's income.

At the recent Rootstech Conference there was a lot of discussion about falling membership in societies, rising membership fees and giving value for money. I wonder if production of a fat shiny journal a few times a year represents a wise  allocation of funds in the 21st century.

Blogs give me access each to day to many more articles on genealogy than I get in one edition of the journal that I just skim. Via my RSS feed I, not a journal editor, can scan a huge number of articles and select those that I want to read and digest. So I read genealogy blogs to get access to a wide range of pertinent articles written by many people internationally, to hear of events, keep up to date with the latest resources and to communicate and collaborate with like-minded people.

I'd love it if more readers embraced the collaborative nature of blogging and engaged in a conversation via the comments section in the blogs they read.


Lynn Palermo said...

Well said! Time for genealogical societies to catch up.

Joan Miller (Luxegen) said...

I agree Jill. The benefits of having a vast amount of excellent information available to us via blog from many experts is not to be underestimated. We are very fortunate we live in the techno-age.

Diana Ritchie said...

I would love to get a "fat shiny journal" electronically - so it would be searchable not to mention easier for me to much less space than paper. Great point too about the money - more and more things are being offered with an option to "go green" and do away with paper delivery.

GeniAus said...

It's refreshing to read these comments and know that others share my views.
Diana, When I wrote the post I wasn't thinking about the environmental impact - what a good point.

Carole Riley said...

As the co-editor of a society journal I would like to say a couple of things.

1. I agree that we should be able to receive a soft copy instead of the printed copy. Unless we enforce this, though, we do not save any money by printing a few less, and most members want a printed copy. Certainly other libraries do. We are looking at giving the option soon, as well as making previous issues downloadable from the website for members. It takes time.

2. I also agree that there is a much greater variety of articles available online in blogs. The difference with journal articles is that they are usually longer and they are EDITED, by which I mean that they are checked and the writing is tightened. Blogs tend to be written by people who like to write, and the best ones cite their sources. Society journals give people who do not have the knowledge or willingness to self-publish the opportunity to be heard. These are people who may never have written anything for public consumption before. Society journals are also a bit more permanent, although who knows how long that will last!

Martin said...

I couldn't disagree with you more. I'm not sure to which society you are referring, but no blog is producing quality genealogical articles. That is compiled genealogical articles with sources. Many blogs do "how to" articles or new resources, but none do the type of article that appears in the New England Historic & Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, The Genealogist, or a host of others I can name.

Secondly, an editor should have enough experience to choose articles wisely. You may not know what you need to know when choosing your blog reading. An editor who chooses may up your game considerably.

GeniAus said...

Thanks, Carole and Martin, for your comments.

Congratulations to your Society, Carole, for reviewing your practices and giving thought to these issues. I would love to be able to access journals in soft copy. I could save on storage space and get greter access to the articles that would hopefully be searched by keyword.


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