THIS LITTLE BLOG OF MINE . . .
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!
September 6, 2013 Friday at 8:54 pm