Friday, February 17, 2012

Drury Puckett(1733): What Would He Think of Social Media?

Another segment in my learning about libraries and my web experience:

Although I have not read the book, Dave Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous I can comment on Weinberger's interview done about the time his book was released in 2007. His thoughts were that the web is more liberated and community oriented because of the new ways technology allows users to participate in the web. Since this interview, Facebook, Twitter and other social media have proven this idea to be true. The Web allows users to talk in their own voice; and, using that voice is becoming easier and easier as technology improves. Also users have a sense of ownership which is not allowed in the real world. They can write, publish and develop in their own world of "leaders" and "followers" without the restraints of the real world (meaning money, advertising, publishers, etc).

We now have a huge miscellaneous pile of information which can be used by web users in the ways they uniquely find best. According to Weinberger, instead of telling users how to use information, libraries need to find ways to help the user find their information and use it in their own way. And, as Web material continues to grow exponentially, information will be be best categorized by the social group which defines it-meaning, who are the followers? why is it important to them?

I see this as the premise of FamilySearch's Family Tree. The goal is to help the user source the Tree with the documents which they find and tag (or define). The FamilySearch Wiki aids the user in finding the documents. FamilySearch provides the technology which allows the user to build their own Family Tree, to collaborate with their own relatives, and work together sourcing that Tree with the documents they feel are most pertinent to their own Tree.

I experienced this as I used WeRelate for the first time this past week. WeRelate is a wiki-type family tree. I found an ancestor I have research extensively, Drury Puckett, on WeRelate. This site had some court information which I had never seen, and which I hope can lead to information about Drury's wife. In turn, I had marriage information which was not found on the tree. I added my marriage information but did not source it. Within a couple of hours, I heard from someone who requested that I add a source for the marriage. What great monitoring of the site! My small piece of information in the huge pile was categorized and defined as integral to Drury Puckett's life story. Social media helped me to take the extra step to see that it was carefully and completely defined with a strong source statement. It works!



The picture is of the Clinch River in Washington County Virginia near where Drury's property was located in 1790. Drury is Jim's 5th Great-Grandfather.

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