Friday, November 16, 2007

What's there to lose?

In Episode 34 of the Genealogy Gems podcast I mention a letter that I wrote regarding an article about podcasting that appears in the January 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine. In the article it was suggested to readers to post their recorded oral family histories as a podcast on iTunes. In my letter I pointed out that you loose control over your audio files once they are unleashed on the Internet. In addition, it's critical to obtain permission from every person who appears in the recording.

The same thing can be said of posting family photos and histories online. There are so many cool new genealogy social networking websites coming online. Seems that everyone is getting in on the act. In all the excitement it can be easy to forget that these large subscription websites are "for profit" entities. Content is gold in the world of the world wide web, and your photos and recordings are free content for these websites. And content makes websites more valuable.

I have always found genealogists to be big-hearted generous people. It is a tradition to share and give. Free lookups and "random acts of kindness" are thankfully commonplace. And there certainly are benefits to posting our treasures online. It may connect us to an unknown distant cousin or reseacher. But since we're talking about our precious families, safety and security is key.

Is it safe to post files of our family members telling their stories for all to hear? Do we mind that genealogy social networking websites are profiting from our postings? Is there anything to lose in this arrangement? The industry is still very young, so there will be lots to watch and see.

I'd like to hear what you think on this topic. Have you had an online success or horror story? Do you mind that you don't share in the profits? Please post your comments to this blog. And be sure and take a moment to take the Genealogy Gems Blog poll question in the upper right corner of the page: Do you think there's any harm in posting (giving) your family photos, interviews, and histories to a "for profit" genealogy social networking website?


Ed Mason said...

The for profit thing does not bother me, as long as the content is available at no charge. I see little benefit in posting an audio recording of my family history for public access. However, putting my entire tree on WorldConnect and other such places has paid great benefits, as it has helped me find second third and fourth cousins, along with their knowledge and pictures of our shared family history.

Anonymous said...

At, some genealogical webiste, you decide whether or who reads your family stories. Let s say, I built my family tree at their website and I excluded some family members from certain stories. So its up to use to decide!!!
Social websites are not any different from using a credit card, if u ask me. sure, u deliver information, but the same happens with ur credit card or other things u are not even aware of.