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!



  1. Great post Mary - I think like anything it can become and obsession. While I don't think many genealogsts will ever approach the level of some World of Warcraft fanatics who forget to bathe or tend to their children for days at a time (seriously - read the news!), it is easy to let any genealogy resource take over your life.

    But right now I can tell you that this very post was valuable to me: I did not know that Carrow and Faunt Family Tales had a focus on Delaware and Maryland genealogy. Helpful for me and probably for others - so I have just added that blog to the Delaware and Maryland genealogy type blogs at GeneaBloggers (

    It is not easy reading all the genealogy blog posts (or playing catch up if you fall behind) - but just like anything that can be overwhelming, you need to have a "triage plan" and just focus on what is important and useful.

    Thomas MacEntee

  2. Mary
    Thanks for the vote of confidence.I think it helps us as researchers to help others and pay attention to other people's research.
    Your Blog has relevance for me also and first inspired me to Blog.I found some interesting things while looking up your Dehortys and Sillivants, the Catholic affiliations on Kent Island were affirmed again, especially in those of Irish descent.
    I think it matters that Sillivants and Carrels(Carrows) were fined for avoiding church which was Protestant(Accomac).It may even explain some out-of -wedlock children whose parents waited for a priest.They did it quitely for sure to avoid more fines.