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Proformat News
No: 63
May 2011
May Seminars
1: Coming to grips with FamilySearch, WEA Centre Adelaide, 10:00am to 1:00pm
: Tracing your English ancestors, WEA Centre Adelaide, 6:30 to 9:30pm
8: Heritage Walk—Glenelg, settlement/resort 1:00 to 3:00pm
9: Finding SA families in newspapers, WEA Centre Adelaide, 8:00pm to 10:00pm
14: Accessing government and private archives, Unlock the Past Adelaide Event
15: Heritage Walk—Historic Houghton 1:00 to 3:00pm
22: Heritage Walk—North Adelaide Cathedral precinct 1:00 to 3:00pm
27: Tracing your Scottish ancestors, WEA Centre Adelaide, 6:30 to 9:30pm
28: Coming to grips with FamilySearch, WEA Centre Adelaide, 10:00am to 1:00pm
29: Heritage Walk—Port Adelaide heritage precinct 1:00 to 3:00pm

All walks hosted by the WEA Centre Adelaide.

June Seminars
None programmed at this time.

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

May is history month in SA
History week usually held at the end of each May under the leadership of HistorySA has been expanded to embrace the whole month to coincide with 175 celebrations of formal European settlement in SA. Many organisations are planning activities for the month including the WEA (see May seminars above) and readers can obtain a program of events from HistorySA and many other venues.

Adelaide Cemeteries Authority
Since the beginning of April the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority has had the burial registers for the four cemeteries under its control online. To search the registers of West Terrace, Cheltenham, Enfield or Smithfield, Adelaide's larger cemeteries go to their site (please consider accessing them via Adelaide Proformat's site) and click on the logo of the cemetery of interest.

Obituaries Australia
The National Centre of Biography's new obituaries database finally has a name, a web design and over 300 obituaries available online. The centre sponsored by the ANU has an ongoing program to place obituaries from newspapers online. In the meantime remember that there is a SA obit index on the Adelaide Proformat's site.

In this issue:
May Seminars
June Seminars
May is history month in SA
Adelaide Cemeteries Authority
Obituaries Australia

Feature article
The role of social media in family history


Graham Jaunay
Adelaide Proformat

Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465

Breaking news: fb

Drafting charts
Locating documents
Seminar presentations
Writing & publishing
SA lookup service
Ship paintings

Adelaide Proformat uses
The Genealogist - for UK census, BMD indexes and more online simply because it contains quality data checked by experts.

Proformat News acknowledges the support by awe AWE

The role of social media in family history
Social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter are very popular with the younger generation, but less so with the cohort interested in their family history. This is partly because of the bad press stories about some of these sites (clearly ignored by our youth) and the reticence of more mature people to take on new concepts. In spite of any negativity you may have heard, business is slowly recognising the potential of social media and indeed Adelaide Proformat has had a social media presence for some time.

The dilemma a user faces in using a social networking site when it comes to privacy and security issues is that the sites most likely to suffer from these issues are the most popular ones and yet it is their popularity that makes them the most attractive to family history researchers because clearly we need the largest possible audience.

There are two major issues users need to be aware of but they are not unique to social networking. A security issue occurs when a hacker gains unauthorised access to a site's protected coding or written language while privacy issues are those involving the unwarranted access of private information.

It would seem that both types of breaches are often intertwined on social networks since anyone who breaches a site's security network opens the door to easy access to private information belonging to any user. However, in the end the potential harm to an individual user is related to the level of information the user places on a social networking site, as well as the amount of information they're willing to share. Clearly a user with 1000s of ‘friends’ is a lot more likely to be harmed by a breach than someone who uses the site with minimal ‘friends’ and information.
The problems with social network security and privacy issues can simply be resolved by users being very careful with what they share.

The bad press and urban myths about the negative aspects of social media are simply addressed by implementing a few basic personal rules about how one uses the sites. Do you want to tell the world everything about yourself, warts and all, or do you want to use such avenues to glean information to further your research interests? Do you want to divide your presence on the world stage much as you do in your personal life and have close friends with whom you share much more intimate information and other associates who know much less about you and so on?

Personally I would like to use social media to reflect my life in that friends are indeed friends and everyone else is there to provide me with information I seek. Of course you need to select your friends carefully because some of them may be inclined to share you with their friends and this is probably the major problem with social media. I address this by not putting anything on any site that I would rather not be shared with strangers.

I use social media in basic ways to further my knowledge in family history. Firstly it is a way of gaining new information. Essentially this is done by linking into organisations that disseminate such information. You will quickly find out about new web sites coming online, changes to existing web sites and news from societies and business in the field. In a similar way it is an effective way of disseminating your own information. As I frequently say in family history seminars—finding the remote members of your family, those 2nd+ cousins is the primary way of developing your knowledge base because it is likely that sooner or later you will come across a family branch with new information. Social networking is a great way of developing this process. Once you find geographically distant individuals who share your interests then this media can provide you with cheap and easy ways to communicate and share knowledge and findings.

Facebook is probably the best known social networking site and as such is the most popular and therefore probably the best site to use. The site provides for a range of activities and varying levels of access so that you can determine who is the potential audience for the material you post. If you are looking around the world for persons with similar interests then that aspect of your material has to be very public and therefore has to be compiled with care to prevent the material being used to disadvantage anyone. Do not include private information about any living person including yourself at the public level. Once you have made a contact, be very careful that it is a genuine contact before becoming more friendly. Even if very friendly with a stranger you should still avoid sharing information about living people, after all both parties should be more interested in the history of the family and not present day gossip and personal material!

Twitter is a popular short message-based site that on first sight seems to lack any potential for researchers. Its strength lies, not in its capacity to send and receive short, more often than not rubbish, messages, but in the fact that it is immensely popular and a great way to locate others with a like interest and keeping in touch with developments in the hobby. The same caveats apply to Twitter as they do to Facebook. I certainly do not use the site to gossip or tell the world what I am doing at the moment!

When I want to compare web sites, televisions, software or whatever, I spend some time undertaking personal research before making a choice. I find that TopTenReviews is a useful site to help me make my decision. In the case of the reviewed social network sites, the reviewer examines profile content, security features, networking features, search capacity, support and friend focus.The last aspect is of significance as the reviewer reports:
Most social networking sites encourage users to reconnect with current and past friends, make relationships with friends of friends and build your personal connections. The more popular sites discourage users from contacting strangers with unsolicited messages; however, during our evaluation we found a few sites in which users encouraged this behavior and over the course of time we were contacted by strangers all over the world looking to “chat” online and exchange email addresses. There was an overall creepy feeling we could not ignore and felt it should be included in our ratings. The more strangers that contacted us the more their rating went down in this section.

Ironically the researcher should be seeking strangers, but strangers who have a like research interest. The very fact they are strangers, just emphasises the care one needs to take before opening up a dialogue.

Some consider blogs (web logs) as another form of social networking. Essentially they are news and information newsletters. The social media aspect in blogs is that they invite, and indeed thrive on, responses from the readers. That is where this newsletter differs. While I welcome feedback, there is no provision in this newsletter for public feedback, that is feedback that is automatically appended to the blog. Proformat News has a limited blog version that allows for the feedback aspect to each newsletter. The best way to manage blogs is to employ a blog reader which operates like email software.

Probably the major problem facing bloggers is securing an audience! Apart from having content that will interest readers,
strategies have to be adopted to make the potential audience aware that you are out there. This can best be achieved by linking to other like blogs, adding comments to other like blogs, interacting with any reader who responds, and listing the site on indexes such as Technorati.
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