Sunday, September 09, 2007

Blogging as History

As a genealogist every little tidbit of family history becomes important. There is so much more to writing a family history than drawing the family tree. It’s those stories about the people that make them come to life.

My Norwegian family history goes back centuries. I know only that Filippus Erlendson lived in Sogn from 1290 to 1340 and was married to Ingeborg Erlendsdatter, who died in 1332. But what else do I know about Filippus and Ingeborg? Absolutely nothing.

Recently I have become concerned about the legacy that we are going to leave behind for family who might want to discover their roots in the future. The fact that we seldom print out pictures, write letters on stationery, or write in diaries concerns me. It is true that the records of births, marriages, and deaths will probably be available. But those result in just names and dates. The anecdotes that define us will be missing.

The other day I was thinking about how just a year’s worth of someone’s Blog would be the perfect way to understand what made that person tick – what brought happiness, what brought sadness, what brought anger, how the person approached life in general.

But it’s hard for me to envision that in 100 years Blogger is going to be alive and well. The safest way to preserve a Blog would seem by printing it out. However, looking at my own that would approach 1000 entries. With technology constantly changing, there is a real issue about preserving anything electronically with the intention of using it in the distant future.

The wonders of technology that have supported digital pictures and Blogs may be the very things that make them entirely impossible to preserve for future generations.

Perhaps a better idea is to live in the moment and to forget leaving a personal legacy to the world. One person I know is even going as far as deconstructing her Blog after having quit. I struggle with this idea, thinking about how long it took to write years of posts and assemble and edit photos. But maybe they serve their purpose only when they are written and read and are not really meant to inform history.

How do you feel about your Blog being a part of your history?


Blogger Jamy said...

I feel strongly that blogging IS history. Real, historical history, not just personal history. Given the whims of technology, though, the best way to preserve your blog legacy would be to print it out. Maybe not all at once, but a month at a time?

I know if I could read my grandmother's blog--or my mother's blog--I would love that opportunity. Not to mention all the great-grandparents who I never got to meet.

Don't deconstruct your blog! It's a precious resource.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy -- I totally agree with you. I too would love to read what my distant relatives might have written. Unfortunately theirs was such a hard life that there would have been very little time for the luxury of writing. That's a big difference between than and now.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It's a gift you're giving your children, a chance to more know of you than their mother. Even more for future generations.

I write all my posts in Word and use a standard naming convention so that I can keep/print/find what I want.

Unlike diaries of my childhood, I'm not embarrassed to go back and reread entries. I'm not the same person, but it's nice to reacquaint myself with her from time to time.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- I feel exactly as you do. But in 100 years, my computer won't be around, Word won't be around, and Blogger won't be around for sure. The only hope for anyone to ever read it is if it is in hard copy. Will they know what they are reading? Having gone through my parents' possessions after their deaths, I can tell you it's overwhelming and sometimes hard to judge the significance of what you encounter.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

I've often thought that archeologists of sociologists would get a grreat ense of society from blogs, but as to their endurance . . . who can say. I originally wrote for the writing practice as I woek to build frelance publications, but I also know my kids read mine. They probably know more of who I am that I ever did of my parents.

Oh, I see kristin said something similar. :>) Hi Kristin.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

RuthD -- At least your children will know what they have found if they come across a printed version of your Blog some day. That's great!

6:27 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I think you should run it off in hard copy. There is even a "Blogbinder" service somewhere so you have a book to give your kids. I think they'd love it.
I'm just running off all my poems and the few stories I've written and I'll bind it myself.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

You can be selective about what you keep and print and MOI's book suggestion is a good one. I have had journals of various periods in my life copied and bound for my children and they all read my blog. I also have copies of nearly every one of the 500+ columns I wrote for the paper as many of them had to do with my childhood and things I remembered about my parents and grandparents. I do as Kristin does and save the entries in Word on a separate cd. No doubt in years to come, cd's will be replaced but just as we can copy from the old floppy disks onto newer computers, the cd will be copy-able I'm sure and so you can keep transferring data to newer technological devices.

4:25 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I agree with Jamy that blogging is history, real history. It's ephemeral history though, and speaking only about my own blog, it is not at all precious, which is why deconstructing it (or "melting" it as Hammer describes my process) is so perfect.

As for your family roots, how COOL that you can trace the story back to the 13th century! Have you read any Scandinavian social history books from that era? You could definitely get a big picture view of the way your ancestors lived.

Though I have no personal history of my relatives from Wyzegordek, I know a lot about them, thanks to the Holocaust library. They have a lot of books detailing the social history of chasidic shtetl life in Eastern Europe from the 18th century until the Holocaust - fascinating! I also love their photo archives.

As for my blog, as I deconstruct, I've been speaking the Feri incantation that opens the circle after a magical working:

"All from air, back to air, let the misty curtain part."

8:43 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- Tell me more about Blogbinding. That sounds exactly like what I have been looking for.

Pauline -- What you suggest works as long as I am around to do it. I am more concerned about future generations finding CDs with files on them that can no longer be read by any software.

Reya -- I am simply amazed at your ability and willingness to let go of your writing and your beautiful photos as you deconstruct your Blog. It would be painful for me, at least at this point.

I have read a lot about the social history of Norway. It was a tough life they tried to escape from when they came to America (and found blizzards and locusts and other natural phenomenon that were equally unkind).

9:03 AM  
Blogger steve said...

i've been printing mune off from the get go...

9:52 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Good for you!

10:36 AM  

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