Telling a story and social media…

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  I have heard everything from, kids don’t read email, to email is obsolete.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..

a better mouse trap...

  • 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…)