Though I’m unable to attend the FGS Annual Conference in nearby Knoxville, I plan to follow along as much as I can via blog posts, Twitter feeds & Facebook status updates. However, I started thinking about what I’d hoped to have gained from attending FGS and much of it centers on what I perceive as an overall need for genealogy societies to better leverage technology and increase their engagement in online media (e.g. social media & social networking). I have a lot of thoughts about this but in this post I’ll address the traditional publishing models I see in many genealogy societies and why some changes would be more likely to engage me as a member.
Many genealogy societies produce a journal and/or newsletter in print format. In order to be more accessible, some offer the journal/newsletter online as an electronic download, usually in the form of a PDF document. I’ve seen one society, the Durham-Orange Genealogical Society, who put their newsletter in an online HTML format and provide the quarterly publication via PDF online using Scribd. This is a great set-up and the members of the D-OGS have a great person in Ginger to figure out some of the technical underpinnings. However, I’d love to see the entire genealogical society network incorporate similar practices in a more systematic and robust manner and take this even further.
For example, in the medical academic publishing community most journals are published electronically. Journal websites frequently provide the following:
- RSS feeds for newly published articles
- the ability to “comment” at the article level
- ability to “share” via social networking sites
- free abstracts with full access restricted to subscribers
- HTML & PDF versions of articles
- free access to articles older than a specified time period (e.g. 12, 18, or 24 months)
- articles organized by subject categories with those specific categories available as RSS feeds for easy browsing and/or searching
Furthermore, individual journals are often part of a larger collaborative/network of journals (e.g. Highwire at Stanford University) and at the aggregate level users have the ability to search across journals, across subjects/disciplines and across article type. Membership/subscription management is facilitated at the level of the individual journal. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have an online publishing network for genealogy societies that provided similar functionality for their publications?
Below is a screenshot of PLOSGenetics – if you visit the site at www.plosgenetics.org to get a sense of the interactivity & dynamic presentation of their articles and other journals part of the PLOS network.