Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What About My Life and Family Stories?

For the past three years, the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City has put a major emphasis on telling stories - in text, audio, video, in person, etc.  Most of the Keynote talks have been about stories, and the Expo Hall has been filled with small and large companies focusing on telling stories.

1)  There are, seemingly, hundreds of companies with this focus, and some have even disappeared already.  There are websites and mobile apps for writing your priceless prose, recording your wonderful audio, and even your fascinating video.  One, called, Forever, says that they will guarantee that your work will be available for 100 years.  For a price, of course.  They had a big display at the RootsTech Expo Hall.

2)  I know that I want to tell my family stories so that my children, grandchildren and future generations can read my words, hear my voice and see my image.  However, I don't want to do it many times - I want to do it once and do it well.

Which platform to use?  Heretofore, I've used my Genea-Musings to tell my stories in a blog post - often as part of an ongoing theme - Wordless Wednesday, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, a Carnival of Genealogy post, etc.  "They" say that the younger generations don't have the patience to read online, and really want to see and hear the person telling the stories.

3)  There are some genealogy companies that provide story-telling platforms already - FamilySearch and MyHeritage mobile apps provide audio recording capability already, and Ancestry.com will soon provide it in their mobile app.  It is not a stretch to think that they will also provide video capability in the near future.

Then there are the stand-alone apps - the ones like Forever, Saving Family Stories, StoryCorps, StoryWorth, etc.  It is probable that the genealogy companies will take over or partner with one or more of these platforms as time goes on, essentially picking winners.

4)  I have questions:

*  How can I adjust to what the younger generation wants?  The obvious answer right now is on mobile devices.  I probably want a website and app that will display text, audio and video (and perhaps holograms in the future?) on mobile devices.

*  How will they know where to find my august visage and timeless words?  Or those of my ancestors? I need to tell them, I guess, and hope that they remember to tell their children and grandchildren.

*  How long will whatever I do last?  Which company(ies) will last into my great-grandchildren's lifetimes?  What happens to my stories when MyStoryCo.com goes belly up?  What happens to my blogs when I die and nobody pays the domain fees?

*  Will they even care?  Will they want to hear the befuddled musings of their aged, bearded, balding, funny-looking great-grandfather with mid-20th century values and experiences?

5)  So what will I try to do?  I think I want a platform that is free to use for everyone.  It would be useful if the platform was tied to an online family tree with photos.  It would be useful if the platform permits text, audio and video that is tied to a specific person profile.  The platform needs to have a mobile app that can add text, audio and video to those person profiles.

One website and app that meets all of my criteria above is FamilySearch - it is free, has the Family Tree, has text, photos and audio uploads, and a free mobile app called Memories that can be used to add text, photos and audio.  I think that this website will be available for a very long time.  I doubt that it will be purchased or go out of business.

Here is my "Photos" page of the FamilySearch Memories app:


Those are photos of my ancestors.  They each have a story too.  I am probably the only one that can tell their stories at this point in time, except for my parents and grandparents, who my brothers can recall.  The beauty of FamilySearch Family Tree as a collaborative tree is that my brothers or cousins could add content to their profile, whether text, photos, audio or video.

My only problem I have with this is:  If I tell stories about my life, and put them on my profile for myself, then no one will be able to hear or see them until after I die and my profile becomes public on the FamilySearch Family Tree.  I want my grandchildren to be able to read, hear and see them now while they are young and impressionable.  Maybe FamilySearch has some way to make that happen.

6)  What are you doing to transmit family stories about you and your family and your ancestors for your descendants and relatives?  Have you chosen a platform to do this?  Why did you choose what you chose?

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Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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7 comments:

Hilary Gadsby said...

There are 2 websites that I have tried and discussed in blog posts. Both of them have been developed in the UK. Famberry is a place to share privately with your family and I have added some details and photos but have not found it particularly intuitive. Twile a recent newcomer which was a finalist at Rootstech I have found much easier to use. I have only added one photograph at the Family Search site but like you I would be interested in using a private access area for living close family members.
The main reason I like Twile is the timeline which helps you to put events in context. The recent announcement of its partnership with Find My Past is also more of a guarantee that they're going to be around for a while and are likely to develop further.
Whatever choice I make, like anything using technology, I will need to make sure I move with the times.
The question of access once you have gone should be considered wherever you decide to put your information and it's something that most of us will overlook. I am going to look at this before I start adding large amounts of information to any one place. My own computer is the only place where I can have any certainty that my close family will be able to access when I am no longer here and for the moment that is where the digital files will be regardless of any cloud backup.

Jill Ball said...

Randy, this would be a beaut discussion for Rootstech 2017. Are you going to submit a proposal?

Jill Ball said...

Randy, this would be a beaut discussion for Rootstech 2017. Are you going to submit a proposal?

wendy smedley said...

Wow, love this insight so much. Now I need to convince myself to do more research and learnings about the history of my ancestors.

Nancy Hurley said...

You expressed so well the issues swimming in my head. Now I have to more intently study Family Search features. Thanks. Meanwhile, I am curious also about your thinking on the hard copy of your story. Do you think the printed version is obsolete for those future generations?
I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.
Nancy Hurley

Melissa Finlay said...

I left RootsTech this year with similar questions running through my mind. I've decided I will be making short videos. See my blog post and first video story: http://finlayfamily.org/bloggy-stuff/join-me-for-familystoryminute/ For now, I am posting them at YouTube, and at home on my AppleTV, but as video capabilities open up in online trees, I will also post them there.

Ken Hardman said...

Nice musings. My #AncestorClips (stories) are at www.ancestorclips.com (Wordpress) with copies on familysearch.org and links at Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Each time a post a 60 second story, I post a link at the Facebook group sites of the communities where the ancestor lived.