Saturday, 3 May 2014

Society Saturday - The Next Gen Genealogy Network

The first general meeting of Next Gen took part in Tuesday evening, well it was the early hours of Wednesday morning here in the UK.

I had planned to try and watch live via the Google+ Community whilst sitting in my pyjamas. Are you not relieved that I not join live?

So on Wednesday morning I sat and over a cup of tea I watched the recorded and archived version of the meeting. It is wonderful that like +Society for One-Place Studies that +The NextGen Genealogy Network is embracing social media and taking genealogy to the next level in terms of engagement.

After the introductions, +Jen Baldwin, co-chair of Next Gen raised a series of questions and then encouraged conversation with the panel and those watching live. Here are the questions then I am going to chip in with a few answers

  1. What can we, as a virtual organisation do to make an impact right now in the genealogical community?
  2. What can we physically do to support the mission of the Society? ......."empower genealogists world wide"
  3. How can we assist more traditional societies?
  4. Where should we be focusing our energy right now?
  5. How do we connect at national events?
  6. What special interest groups are required within NextGen?
  7. How do you genealogically "geek out"?
Some really great and thought provoking questions. I will share some thoughts with you.

Next Gen exists as a virtual group. The society embraces social media and by doing so is setting the scene for the next generation of genealogists to join those already involved. The biggest issue is, we as an arena of genealogists need to over the ageist aspect of genealogy. Whether you are 10, 40, 60 or 102 you can all be genealogists. Young does not equal new. We need to stop labelling as young and new. We need to be inclusive of race, gender, age, geography. We need to open our arms wide and welcome anyone who is interested in genealogy or history in this way. We need to stop the elitist view.

Next Gen goes some way to stop that and does bring people, location and genealogy together. There is quite a journey ahead as Next Gen bridges the gap from the traditional ages of genealogists to the actual varying ages of genealogists.  Next Gen provides an arena for enabling that conversation to take place between say parents, grandparents and extended family with the youngsters of the family. We need to build on the interests of those youngsters, by getting them engaged with what is around them. 

The children of today, are it seems, (as I don't have any children), children for less time now. Or is that a sign that I am getting old? The kids have mobile phones and often not parted from them. Then there are Playstations, x-boxes and hosts of other games. All pretty much technologically driven. What happened to Monopoly or is that old fashioned?

Engagement needs to happen in the arena where the kids are. Get genealogist Grandma on Facebook and share those photographs. Perhaps pointing out the resembles to current, live family members, especially the youths.

Next Gen, by simply being "out there" is providing an arena to encourage dialogue Firstly  with the youth that are interested in genealogy and secondly, for the want of a better term, the genealogical adults to try and engage the family next generation.

Think about it. Great grandma would have potentially milked a cow or walked five miles to the farm to purchase milk in a jug.  Junior these days opens the fridge and it is in a plastic container. The concept and dimensions of something familiar to everyone is completely different.

In the hangout the example was given of engaging youths in the Pension Rolls for 1812. Sounds a great idea. About three years ago I visited The Underground Hospital on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands.As you enter the museum visitors are presented with a card bearing someone's name. There was limited information, but the genealogist in me asked why? Having been round the museum, the cafe had a series of pictures of people on the wall.You took the card you received when you arrived and searched the wall to establish the fate of the named individual. It interested me and pretty much every adult and child there.

The fate of some people was unknown, some had survived the Second World War (the Channels Islands was under German control from 1940) and others sadly perished. Sobering for the children, but that is a conversation for a parent to explain. I have written about the Underground hospital before, but you can see the post HERE. What is interesting is that about a year ago I had an email from someone whose parent knew one of the people named on one of our cards. That was fabulous as it meant that, the individual had survived the war and I passed the details onto the museum in Jersey. Sometimes joining the dots is great!

By being an on-line organisation the possibilities are endless for engagement and testing the water with technology. Encouraging those more seasoned genealogists to toe dip into the fantastic on-line genealogical world. The bottom line is that we can learn something new every day. The internet has revolutionised the way we do everything, including genealogy. Lets use it to an advantage to engage another generation of our families.

+The NextGen Genealogy Network Google Community

Society Website where you can find out more details about the Society and join

Disclaimer - I write a regular column called Right Here, Right Now for NextGen Dispatch, the quarterly newsletter for the Society and I am also Chair for Social Media. I have also write occasionally for the Society blog and have been featured as Member Spotlight. The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the Society.

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