Year Nine: Life Support


This week marks the ninth anniversary of GeneaBlogie. The blog and its author have been through a lot over the last nine years, as has the  blogosphere itself. Nine years is a lifetime in social media or technology.

There are platforms that did not even exist nine years ago when this blog started. And there are hundreds if not thousands of new genealogy blogs that have arisen since 2004.

The blogosphere as it relates to genealogy was like the galaxy itself. There were a few eminent stars out there and there were a few of us asteroids hanging around and dashing headlong into the Galactic night. Some of those asteroids have turned into big stars themselves. And this is been a joy to see. I hesitate to mention any names here that I will leave someone out.

You know who the stars were; many of them are just as luminous today as they were in the early days (and they would no doubt point out that the “early days”were more than just nine years ago). Many of the stars were in the firmament as early as the early 90s.

But it’s the asteroids that held so much promise in those early days, and those asteroids have turned into stars (having been in astrophysics major for about a minute, I know that asteroids don’t turn into stars, except metaphorically.) Some of the asteroids no longer exist. But when you think asteroids that became stars, think of Denise Olson, Randy Seaver, Footnote Maven, Sheri Fenley (who went by a different name in the early days.), Lisa Louise Cooke, Jasia, and many others.

The genealogical blogosphere has had astronomical proliferation since we first signed on in 2004, due to several factors. The first factor would have been Jasia’s opening of the Carnival of Genealogy. Through the Carnival, new bloggers were nurtured and encouraged in the craft. Some of the original asteroids also honed their craft in the Carnival. Jasia’s Carnival was a sort of Google Hangout before there were Google Hangouts. As the carnival grew in popularity, so did the number of bloggers and blogs.

The second factor in the explosion of the geneablogosphere was the arrival of Thomas MacEntee. Thomas literally change the face of genealogical blogging. He brought great technical knowledge, an entrepreneurial drive, all topped off with a sense of style and whimsy. He started the Geneabloggers website, which was (and remains) instrumental in cataloging and showcasing the new bloggers who rushed in as surely as homesteaders in 1907 Oklahoma. Once the beads were handed out at the 2008 Southern California genealogical jamboree, everybody knew the blogosphere had changed forever.

Thirdly, Pro Genealogists and Family Tree Magazine began separately naming the top blogs in genealogy. And just before that came the technological marvels, Lisa Louise Cook’s video podcasts, George Morgan and Drew Smith’s podcasts, and later Blog Talk Radio. As we all got comfortable with the Web, innovation flowed like a river. Footnote Maven’s incredible magazine, Shades of the Departed took the community in yet another direction, as did Miriam Robbins’ complex of websites.

Another factor in the proliferation of genealogical blogs was the mass migration of bloggers to social media. The dam was broken when Megan Smolenyak put the Unclaimed Persons site on Facebook.

There now exists a new generation of stars and a new class of asteroids. You know who they are.

Amid all this chaotic dynamism, whither GeneaBlogie? In eclipse is the simple answer. The why is a bit harder to parse. When we started in 2004, the idea was to share research substance and ideas, review various products marketed to genealogists, explore legal issues related to genealogy, report news of genealogical interest and bring a bit of whimsy and humor to genealogy. Was that too much? No. For six years, we did exactly that. In 2007, we ran a series on a copyright issue that had the community marching with torches and pitchforks on a certain Provo-based company. And we garnered a large readership. In 2009, Pro Genealogists ranked GeneaBlogie number 11 on its list of top 25; in 2010, we were among the nominees for the Family Tree Magazine Top 40. It’s been downhill from there!

In 2010, being interviewed on Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems (live from the Alameda County Fairgrounds), I used the term “medical hiatus” for the first time. I was recovering from back surgery. The readers who have been around for awhile (and thank you both!) know that I’ve had Parkinson’s Disease for more than 14 years. So is that what happened to GeneaBlogie? I’d like to say no but the fact is I don’t know. We tried several re-inventions, but they all died on the vine.

I used to say that I’d be doing this even if nobody was reading it. And that’s still true. The problem is that my personal quality standards are being offended.

All good things must end and there are second acts in America. That doesn’t mean GeneaBlogie is finished. This is no pity party.  But there are decisions to be made, actions to be prioritized. The “medical hiatus” must end (and it will) and the spirit of creativity must be re-awakened.

In the meantime, there’s great stuff being written every day. Go out and get it!

















13 Responses to “Year Nine: Life Support”

  • Nita Ighner says:

    Congrats Craig!! Your work has always been inspiring throughout the years. You’ve always maintained such intelligent and informative blogs. I’ve been inspired once again to give it a go. :) There is nothing like genealogy. And thank you for the support you’ve given my work!

  • MHD says:

    As usual, Craig, you’ve written a very insightful and personal history in this post. Craig, from all these comments you can see that you have many very, very loyal readers! I still remember the feeling I had when I discovered your blog: so well written and with such quality content. Your helpfulness outside the bog has also been so very generous. No matter how long the wait or what the next format may be, I’ll be waiting for the next offering. I still sorry we missed connections last year in Carmichael. Our best to you and yours.

  • Craig says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words and your readership of GeneaBlogie! We’re not going away, but it may appear in a different format. Regardless, we’ll fulfill our motto, “Learn, Share, Enjoy, Appreciate!”

  • FerneK says:

    I’m one of your loyal readers who has faithfully read your blog over the years. I just wanted to say thanks for writing about your research journey, as you searched for your lost ancestors. I have learned a great deal from you. I wish you the best for improved health.

  • Bill West says:

    Happy Blogiversary, Craig. I’ve always thought of you as one of smartest people in our blogosphere.I wish you improved health, a reawakening of your Muse, and many more years of blogging.

  • I certainly wasn’t around in the early years, but when in did come on the scene it was easy to pick out the stars….and I’ve always considered you one of them. Any time I read something you’ve written I’ve always been awed by your wonderful use of words….you are such an inspiration!!! (And because I don’t have you way with words, I have to rely on exclamation points.)

  • Sheri Fenley says:

    Craig Dahling! Nine years??? Where does the time go? You are my Hero Mr. Manson and one of my greatest inspirations. Your writing ALWAYS sets the bar for the rest of us . Now I wasn’t going to ask but it is killing me – what other name have I used? I know I’ve been called alot of names but don’t think I cared enough about any of them to start using them :)
    I absolutely adore you!

  • Craig says:

    Miriam, you have been an inspiration! Your contributions to the geneablogging community have been prodigious. And you make it look easy, even through the tough times. I don’t yetb know what comes next for GeneaBlogie, but whatever it is, it will owe something to the values you have exemplified.

  • Craig says:

    Dru, You are one that I follow! You’re right, the COG was good for many of us.

  • Craig says:

    Greta, you were one of the early bloggers, too. I really appreciate your early and ongoing support!

  • Greta Koehl says:

    I loved your summary of the early years of the genealogy blogging community. I would read your posts no matter how infrequent and I hope that your decision will include some sort of online presence. Work has also limited my ability to post, so I understand your situation. But be assured, you still have a loyal reader base.

  • Craig, you described the history of genealogy blogging so eloquently. I remember Jasia’s Carnival of Genealogy, for it was the place where I developed my skills as a genealogy blogger and discovered so many new friends in the virtual world,

  • Ah, Craig! You will always remain one of my own special geneablogging stars! We early bloggers have a special connection that will never change, no matter what the future holds.

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