Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are Blogs a Distraction?

Randy Seaver, over at Genea-Musings, poses the question "Are the many blogs being written and read messing us up - are they time-wasters?" To me, that question has two parts.

Are they messing me up? Sure! Reading all the blogs I've followed (not as many as Randy, but still quite a few)does take time. And, it is time taken away from other genealogical pursuits. The same goes for writing a blog. Formulating these pithy, yet profound, observations on life, liberty and the pursuit of ancestry takes time away from other things. And, I haven't gotten the time-management thing down yet.

Are they time wasters? Well, the jury is out on my blog, but the blogs I read are definitely not time wasters. Reading the observations of others never fails to give me a new way of thinking about my own genealogical problem. And, I would have to say that since beginning this blog, and reading others,I have spent more time on my own research so far this year that I had in the previous 2 years combined. I had reached (several) brick walls, and lost the enthusiasm needed to push past them. Of course, the laundry doesn't get done as often...

Far and away the most important reward for blogging are the folks I get to exchange ideas with. Kathleen, over at Carrow and Faunt Family Tales has single-handedly given my Maryland and Delaware research a real shot in the arm. Murmurd's Franco-American and Quebec Genealogy led me to a previously unknown to me family organisation for my husband's family, introducing me to a wealth of research already done that I had no idea about. These are just two examples of several that have profitted my research in only 6 months!

Couldn't we ask the same question of all the resources we use? Are the family trees at Ancestry and Rootsweb really helpful, since so many are unsourced and reproductions of wishful research? Couldn't the same questions be asked of FamilySearch? How helpful is DNA may folks out of the thousands who have been tested actually come up with a helpful match? (Not me, not yet!) And how many of us have spent too much on a book only to find that reference to our surname was only a mention as a witness to a will? And not even someone from our tree!

Is blogging a distraction? Yes, and a welcome one. It has helped me refine my focus, stay on task, expand my knowledge, and make new friends.

I think I'll keep it up!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Vacation Read

Just back from vacation, and trying to get caught up. All the buzz about Genealogy Wise has me over there trying to figure out how it works, and how to find time to fit it all in. (If you haven't already read Greta's excellent post on "Researching, Blogging, Social Networking, and Finding Time", you should. It is definitely a must-read).

Vacation included lots of time on the road. Along with trying to finish knitting a pair of socks, I took along this new book for when the fingers got tired. It turned out I did more reading than knitting. What a find! Marcia Hoffman Rising's The Family Tree Problem Solver: Proven Methods for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Wall has me rethinking some of the ways I have been doing things. She advises researching the families around your family in the census for hints as to female relatives or places of origin. ("Do you mean I have to research all those people too?" Sigh!)
She calls it the difference between searching and researching. She has tips for getting around missing "burned county" courthouse records (my case in Madison County, IN). Plenty of examples help illustrate her recommendations. Full disclosure, I have nothing to do with this book, I just learned a lot.

Now to finish those socks....