Place Pinning My Genealogy Books

Genealogy is all about location right? Well, what better way to map out the coverage of my genealogy book collection than to try and use Pinterest’s new Place Pins feature announced earlier this week. While, I could of course, use Google Maps to do this, Pinterest has a strong visual component that I believe makes it more appealing than creating a custom Google Map.

The Place Pins feature allows you to assign a specific geographic location to any of your Pinterest pins. For my 1st test case, I knew right away what I would use for my experiment. You see, I have a fascination with the books published by Arcadia Publishing – especially their Images of America and Black America Series. The books in the series emphasize pictures to help tell the stories of many locales around the country.  In the past few months I’ve decided to start collecting them and have been planning to make a more concerted effort to keep better track of the ones I have.  Since the books are location-specific, a map makes perfect sense.

This afternoon I created a new board and began pinning my books. Here is my new map! Click on the picture to visit the live version. 

As my collection continues to grow, I will keep adding pins. And, I also have plans for additional boards that could make good use of map, including a series of blog posts I’ll be doing focused on places I’ve lived throughout my childhood.

Let me tell you what I like about the new feature:

  • I appreciate that the map automatically includes the full geographic region covered by my pins.
  • The pinning process is easy — though it did take me a couple of tries to realize that I’m supposed to enter the pin description before I actually upload the pin
  • as you rollover a number on the map, the corresponding pin is highlighted; and vice-versa

What could be improved?

  • when more than one pin is in the same city, the overall map you doesn’t show multiple numbers if zoomed out to far, only one number
  • it would be nice if the map zoom function would work by mouse scroll (like Google Maps)
  • The feature leverages FourSquare maps, so locations have to be in the FourSquare database; that could potentially be limiting. Perhaps there could be some integration of Google Maps

I’m going to have fun with this. Thanks to the Pinterest team for adding the ability to do this!  Interested in other ways genealogists are using the new feature? Here are just a few other examples I’ve seen in the geneasphere so far:

I would enjoy seeing other’s pin maps, so if you have one, let me know!

I’m a 2013 Jamboree Webinar Presenter!


A few weeks ago, I shared that I’d submitted a webinar presentation for the Jamboree Webinar Extension Series the Southern California Genealogical Society hosts. I am so pleased to share that my webinar was accepted!

On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 I will present “Genealogy News at Your Fingertips: From RSS Feeds to Digital Magazine Platforms.” Here is the description:

RSS feeds are powerful mechanisms for having online content delivered directly to you. With the plethora of genealogy sites available online, the information river can often seem overflowing. In this session, you will learn what RSS feeds are and how they are used, understand why they are beneficial to you as a web consumer and a web publisher, and survey the different types of RSS readers available – including the newest trends of magazine-style content delivery systems for aggregated news. Whether on your desktop or on-the-go, you can make online information work for you!

I am too thrilled!  I’ve done webinars this summer on WordPress, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to help others really leverage the power of RSS feeds.

Now, my webinar is only one of 25 webinars on the 2013 schedule, so you will definitely want to check the offerings and see which ones you can sign up for.  You can’t beat the price either – FREE! Archives of all the webinars will be made available to SCGS members.

Test a Website, Win A Prize!

Would you like to help me test a website I’m working on? If so, you could win a prize!

What You Could Win: A 12-month Geni.com PRO account

Geni.com is a collaborative genealogy website with more than 100 million individual profiles.  The free account gives you the ability to create an online family tree w/ unlimited storage space for photos & documents.  Your family members can sign-up, also for free, to collaborate and help build family trees.  The PRO account provides additional features.

How To Enter:  Share your feedback on a genealogy website I’m working on

I have been working on a site for the NCGenWeb Project – a database of extracts from historical newspapers.  Most of the content comes from an amazing collection of abstracts from the Raleigh Register newspaper (1799-1893) that was created in the 1940s-1950s by the then State Librarian, Carrie Broughton.  I’ve only so far worked my way through the deaths from 1799-1830 years but that alone is more than 3,600 names.  The rest of the content has come from my indexing efforts of a few town newspapers, plus various extracts here and there, and a few contributions from others.

I’m still in the early stages of building the site and I’m eager to have user feedback and learning if information can be found as easily as I envisioned it.  Therefore, I’ve created a list of 5 tasks and invite you to answer the questions and then provide me with your overall thoughts on your experiences.

Click here to grab the questions. Once you email them back to me, along with a link to your Geni.com profile,  you’re entered!

Rules:

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Winner will be chosen at random.
  • Odds of winning are directly related to how many people enter the contest.
  • You can enter anytime between 9am EST March 29, 2011 and April 4th, 2011.
  • You are responsible for anything in regards to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which you live.
  • Rules can be updated at any time without notice.
  • The winner will be notified via their provided contact information the week following the end of the contest.
  • The winner will have seven days to claim their prize.
  • One entry per person.
  • You must have a free Geni.com account.

 

DISCLAIMER: I myself won a 3-month PRO subscription a couple of weeks ago, and in exchange for my continued use of the site and occasional blogging about my experiences, the Geni team upgraded my PRO subscription to 12 months.  They may come to regret that! Just yesterday I sent in 4 items to the help desk w/ comments about things I encountered on the site — to say I’m an engaged user can be an understatement! In any case, I do think Geni has a great concept and I would love for others to explore what it has to offer also! See an earlier blog post of mine about it.

 

 

My Foray into Geni.com

 

A week ago Friday night while participating in the GeneaBloggers Blog Talk Radio session I won a 3-month “Pro” subscription to Geni.com. I am quite excited!  When I read the description of the session and learned that Noah Tutak, CEO of the company, would be interviewed, I knew I needed to listen.  I have had a Geni.com account for a few years, but haven’t used it much.   I love the potential of the shared family tree building approach so knew I needed to revisit the site.  I strongly support collaborative/social genealogy efforts and feel Geni has great potential in this space.

After several days of really using the site, here’s my overall synopsis of what I like about Geni, what frustrates me, and how I think it compares to other platforms that also seek to promote online, collaborative, & social genealogy. I look forward to seeing how my impressions evolve as I use it further.

What I Like about Geni.com

  • collaborative family tree building – multiple people can easily work together on the same tree
  • easy to use interface — creating & editing profiles is easy with their point & click interface.  Unlike WeRelate and other person wiki-based projects, no knowledge of wikitext is needed. This reduces barriers to use.
  • Their goal of having one World Family Tree and trying to connect as many profiles together as possible. Quite laudable.  Unlike Ancestry Member Trees with their multiplicity,  redundancy can be minimized by merging profiles.
  • Built-in calendar – dates entered into the profiles are turned into notifications to family members of events like birthdays and anniversaries.  I’ve not seen this in other collaborative family tree programs.
  • Daily Digests - sent via email to summarize activity for the day.  a great way to stay informed on who’s doing what
  • Good Search Engine Optimization — results from Geni appear in search engines. I don’t believe this to be the case with Ancestry Member Trees?

What Frustrates Me

  • Editing Others’ Profiles – If I find a profile for which I can contribute information to, I have to request collaboration with the person who manages the tree before I can add to it.  This is seriously hampering my like for when I want to make a substantial contribution, I’d like the flexibility to do it right away.  I can add pieces to the profile, but not family members.  I would prefer an even more open model for collaboration where more edits could be made right away. This feature is a standard in wiki-based collaboration projects and I would like to see it adopted here.  I still haven’t heard back on both of the collaboration requests I made 7 days ago.  :-(
  • Relationship management — when adding a relationship, such as a marriage, to a person, the options on screen lead you through the process rather nicely. However, on the screen to manage a relationship you can only add one relationship and you’re not able to add more.  To add more, you have to go to another part of the profile.  My mother has been married three times — adding her relationships was cumbersome to say the least.
  • Counties not used in Place Names– at least not by default.  I would prefer not to have to enter county names  - especially if I’m entering a city.  That data element can be automatically defined. And some place names have zip codes in them that can’t be erased, while many don’t.  That’s odd.
  • Adding unconnected people — as is the case with Ancestry Member Trees, here you also can’t just add someone initially unless they are connected to an existing person on the tree.  If you don’t wish this to be the case, you have to add them, then remove the relationship.
  • Search Box – should have an option to search the entire site, or search just your tree.  Current set up has you enter a name, then the resulting screen lets you specify options to look at just your tree or the entire site.  Would like to see this moved to appear next to the search box itself in order to reduce a few clicks.  This is a common feature with site searches that use Google Search.
  • Path View – at the top of each profile in your tree is view that shows you how you’re related to the person you are looking at.  This is represented linearly, but there should be an option to view it hierarchically.  It can be hard to understand the steps up and down a tree unless you can represent hierarchy.  My genealogy program, TNG: the Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, does this well.  The Geni team could consider an option to do something similar.
  • Descendancy view – does not include those not biologically related.  I understand the desire to keep it adhered to bloodlines, but it would be nice to have an option to include step-relationships in the Tree View; even if they were color-coded differently.

With a longer list of what frustrates me vs. what I like, you may get the impression i’m dissatisfied - but rest assured that is not the case! I like Geni more than the other wiki and wiki-type user tree sites I’ve come across for the following reasons.  I hope the Geni team considers these thoughts as they continue to make the site better.

How It Compares to other Social Genealogy Sites

  • WeRelate — with no WYSIWYG editor, I find WeRelate too cumbersome to enter data into — even though I am quite adept at HTML and Wiki Markup Language — it just is a time issue for me; it’s faster to do WYSIWYG rather than markup language.  Geni’s interface is point, click, enter – much easier to use.
  • AncestryMemberTrees — Ancestry has a huge user base and is highly visible.  The integration with records is undoubtedly an advantage.  The number of multiple records and how bad information gets rapidly duplicated is a limitation.  Geni is seeking to overcome this and for my purposes when I want to share information I like Geni’s approach better because I would only need to do it once — not to multiple people as is the case with Ancestry Member Trees.
  • WikiTrees – editing a profile you find is also not instantaneous – requests have to be made to the person who manages the profile. I also do not like the layout and structure of WikiTree pages and the ads are obtrusively placed  - often in the center of your screen.  Geni’s profiles are well-structured and ads are placed at the bottom of the page.
  • OneGreatFamily – primary goal is to create one large connected family tree.  I haven’t used this site in several years, but it is a complete subscription based service.  Nothing is visible without the subscription.  Geni.com and Ancestry use a fremimum model, where some information is available for free with additional content/features only available by subscription.  Freemium is better in my book.
  • MyHeritage – the site have a focus on sharing genealogy with those you select.  Thus, the openness of data is often restricted.  I’m not as likely to use this one  given its focus on restriction.

What do you think of Geni.com?

 

 

 

RootsTech Talking

Here is a snapshot of all of our RootsTech Twitter activity the past 7 days.   Almost 3500 tweets from 334 contributors.  494 tweets/day.  That’s a lot of talking people!  The peak was on Saturday, the last day.

But think about it. There were 3000+ attendees and only 10% on Twitter.  Imagine what it would be like if more were on Twitter. Oh my!

For a tweet-by-tweet transcript from Feb. 10-Feb 13th, you can access it here.   Want to do a custom report? Go to wthashtag.org/rootstech and put in your dates of interest.