With the advent of Google+ there has been a lot of discussion in the genealogy world about the value of email, facebook, social media, etc. I have heard everything from, kids don’t read email, to email is obsolete. I am not certain we need to take such absolutist or critical views.
Call me old, call me stodgy, call me a Luddite. All may be true but, I think all these claims, assertions, and tales of woe are an over reaction. As my father-in-law always told me, there’s a place for everything and everything has its place. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and IM, as much as they are popular, will not and can not replace verbal communication, written communication, paper-based communication, video communication, or video media. They ‘merely’ augment it. To succeed, every potential communication venue must find a niche and application that they uniquely address and one where other forms of communication are not as successful. Yes, they may take some “market share” away from pre-existing communication vehicles but more often than not they do not fully replace them. Let me provide a few examples..
- IM (Instant Messaging) or Twitter is instant, rarely contemplative and rarely full articulate IMHO. AKAIK it is best used as a one on one, asynchronous, informal communication medium, mostly for personal purposes and ‘fun’. As a professional, deliberate, documentary communication form it fails.
- Facebook is largely similar to IM/ Twitter with the exception that it adds all manner of value in terms of photos, multi-person asynchronous communications, information tracking and linkages… But again, it is not great for professional, deliberate, or documentary communications.
- Webcams have not replaced telephones nor has IM replaced the plain old phone. But these technologies have certainly changed the application and use of telephones.
To reflect a bit, I can remember in days gone by when “Office Systems” like MSOffice/ LibreOffice/ OpenOffice and their kind were thought to be candidates to replace all Back Office paperwork. Twenty+ years later that still has not happened. Certainly today’s Offices are different from yesterdays; certainly, Office Tools are popular; but, we still have paper and hardcopy in our businesses.
Yes “the times they are a changing” (B. Dylan); and yes, we all need to keep up. But always remember, “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (The Byrds, oh, and Ecclesiastes 3:1). (Note: the two links in this paragraph invoke Youtube versions of the songs…)