Saturday, July 09, 2011

Google+ . . . the latest new tool for Genealogy! may have heard. There is another new tool being introduced which may be of interest to family history enthusiasts. This one will deserve special attention because of the company behind it — it's called Google+ and is a major introduction from the Internet's dominant player. The new service is, in many ways, Google's answer to Facebook.

Now, to be fair, it's too early in the game for me to make any meaningful comments about Google+, but there are a few general observations I will make based on having watched how family historians around the world have used and are using their computers, the Internet, search engines, mobile devices, social media applications, and other technology for to enhance their genealogical pursuits.

First and foremost — don't lose sight of the task at hand! What I mean by that is, new tools can often be an exciting distraction. They're fun, shiny, new . . . but you need to ask yourself: Will this help me with the task at hand or slow me down?

You may not be able to answer that question at first, but just keep it in the back of your mind. If you find yourself spending more time managing the tool itself vs. working on the underlying task, then I'd suggest that perhaps the balance of power has shifted out of your control.

I've seen (and heard) of some who spend so many hours on Facebook, but then have to question how did that time directly help them with their research. It may be different if you're using the service to promote a product or service, but if you're interests are chasing down the next clue to break through a brick wall, then be sure the majority of your time is being used to focus on that goal. Don't get consumed with reading every post just because it appears on the wall of someone you are 'friends' with.

As Google+ prepares to toss their hat in the ring (well, they have already, but the service is still in a controlled 'field test' as they call it), the temptation will be great to have to maintain yet another social network.

My advice (to myself as well as anyone reading) is this — it's helpful and healthy to learn what a new tool has to offer, but unless you need to be on the cutting edge, proceed at a pace that is reasonable for you. And only YOU can judge that for yourself. Don't forget about those ancestors who are still waiting to be found. They deserve some of your time and attention too!

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