Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

Follow Friday: Tim Agazio’s Genealogy Reviews Online

Friday, March 19th, 2010


Tim’s was among the first blogs I subscribed to via RSS back when I first started blogging in July of 2008. I figured with a title like “Genealogy Reviews Online“, his blog would be a good model for what I hoped mine might eventually become.

Since then, though I’ve written the occasional genealogy-related review, I’ve mostly ceded that blogging topic to better-qualified writers like Tim who are willing to spend the time it takes to really explore a website or software package and give it an in-depth treatment.

Giving “Contrarian” a Good Name

Tim’s blog isn’t just about reviews. He spends a fair amount of his posts talking about his own research efforts, and as a result talks a lot about military history, Italian records, and DNA/Genetic research.

What keeps me coming back to his blog, though, is his willingness to take a somewhat contrarian view on genealogy-related topics. Most of the geneabloggers I encounter (Tamura Jones and Randy Seaver being the obvious exceptions) post reviews of new genealogy sites or services (or reality TV shows!) that they like, but Tim’s quite happy to write about resources and commercial entities that he *doesn’t* like and offers well-articulated reasons for his opinions.

Credibility and Authenticity

Tim also writes about blogging as a source of income and offers a tasteful selection of advertising/affiliate links on his site. That’s not something I see myself doing, but his implementation of it is one of the most innocuous I’ve seen.

Something about his writing and his content selection gives off an air of credibility and authenticity that is common to the best blogs I’ve found. Others seem to think so too… he’s got way more RSS subscribers than I do and he gets a consistent stream of thoughtful comments on his posts.

If you don’t already read Genealogy Reviews Online, I’d recommend you do — Tim’s unique take on genealogy and the web in general will leave you better-informed than you were when you came.

Follow Friday: Taneya’s Genealogy Blog

Friday, February 19th, 2010

taneya_facemangaIt’s high time I offered my Follow Friday endorsement of Taneya’s Genealogy Blog. Taneya Koonce is an absolute dynamo when it comes to online genealogy content. She maintains six separate blogs covering newspaper research and specific county resources for numerous localities in North Carolina. She runs her own TNG-powered personal genealogy site. She’s the webmaster for seven different USGenWeb sites, including the main one for North Carolina. All of these sites display a professionalism in content, design, and functionality that is sorely lacking in many Geocities-era pages out there on the web.

Her main blog covers pretty much every topic you’d expect from a top-tier member of the geneablogging community: her own surnames and favorite research localities; reviews of books, genealogy gadgets and web resources; geneablogging memes like Tombstone Tuesday and loads of personal research stories. Her stellar NCGebWeb work gets frequent mention too.

In a recent post, she riffed on Amy Coffin’s “52 Weeks to Better Genealogy“ challenge and talked about how she’d reached out to the WorldCat folks and even snagged a guest blogging stint as a result.

Of course, I’m a little biased, since Taneya is one of our providers and offers genealogy lookups for Tennessee. But if you don’t already have Taneya’s Genealogy Blog bookmarked or subscribed in your feed reader, I heartily recommend that you do.

Follow Friday: ThinkGenealogy

Friday, January 8th, 2010

mark_tucker_web_avatar_cartoonI subscribe to about 30 or so genealogy blogs via RSS. They range from folksy/funny to serious-news-focused to technique/strategy-oriented. One I consistently enjoy is Mark Tucker’s ThinkGenealogy. His posts frequently address some of my favorite genealogy topics:

  • The genealogy research process, and the ways in which beginners can increase the seriousness of their efforts
  • The “Genealogical Proof Standard” and practical ways to follow it
  • “Evidence Explained”-style source citations (in a way that motivates me rather than makes me feel looked-down-upon)
  • Genealogy software innovation (including original ideas of his own and suggestions for the major genealogy software vendors)

And we seem to share a number of interests beyond genealogy:

  • Scouting (Mark has blogged about being a genealogy merit badge counselor; I enjoy doing this too)
  • Web design and user experience
  • Quality presentations (Mark introduced me to Nancy Duarte’s slide:ology, a book that has totally changed the way I prepare talks and Powerpoint decks at work, Church, and elsewhere)

He’ll also be a speaker at the upcoming Family History Expo in Mesa, Arizona. I haven’t yet experienced one of Mark’s talks in person, but I suspect his presentations will be refreshingly clear, entertaining and actionable.

If you haven’t visited Mark’s blog, I encourage you to do so. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll come away motivated to improve the quality (and quantity!) of your genealogical research.

My Best Genealogy Moment of 2009

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
The Harman Continuing Education Building on the BYU campus (photo by swilsonmc on Flickr)

The Harman Building (photo by swilsonmc on Flickr)

I’m a day late with my response to Randy Seaver’s weekly “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” challenge. But when I saw that Thomas McEntee was too, I figured I’d go ahead and still be in good company.

My best genealogy moment of 2009 occurred as I sat at Genlighten’s exhibit booth at the BYU Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy back in March. It dawned on me suddenly that I had come full circle as a genealogy software vendor.

Twenty-six years before, I had attended one of the first versions of that same conference in the very same Caroline Hemenway Harman building on the BYU campus. Back then, as a newlywed sophomore majoring in Physics, I hoped to offer my first-generation Apple IIe-compatible Family Tree software (tentative title: “N-Gen”) for sale at the conference. But when I took one look at the competition, I knew I was completely out of my league. It was obvious to me that I didn’t know the first thing about marketing a useful product to the genealogy community. [Do I know any more now? I sure hope so!]

Now fast-forward to March of 2009: I’ve long since graduated from BYU, and I’m back at that same conference, once again surrounded by intimidating competitors, but this time as a reasonably legitimate vendor of a fledgling genealogy software product. Heady stuff. Scary, too. But I allowed myself to luxuriate in a rare moment of unabashed self-confidence. This time I would not go so quietly into the night of startup failure, I vowed softly.

The two times in my life I’ve launched entrepreneurial ventures, once as a twenty-something, and now again as a late forty-something, they’ve both had genealogy research at their core. It’s obviously got a powerful hold on me!

Social Media Outposts — Personal vs. Corporate

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

As we get closer to letting a few potential early adopters preview Genlighten in private beta form, we’re taking a few tentative steps towards establishing some new social media outposts on the web in addition to this blog.

Up until now, I’ve shifted back and forth here between sharing personal anecdotes and talking about Genlighten milestones and strategy. I’ve done the same with my Twitter account, casually mixing the personal with the corporate. As we start to approach the point where Genlighten becomes an authentic business rather than merely an extremely expensive side-project, it feels like it’s time to give the corporate entity and the CEO their own respective social media channels.

Genlighten — the Corporate Web Presence

What’s that mean going forward? For one thing, Genlighten now has its own Twitter account: @genlighten. There aren’t many updates there yet, but eventually that’ll be the account for our users to follow if they want updates on new features, scheduled maintenance, unscheduled downtime, special events, etc..

The Genlighten blog will remain our formal corporate communication channel — the place to hear what we’re up to, how we view the genealogy marketplace, and what we think we can offer that’s unique. But in keeping with the typical guidelines for a corporate site, I’ll probably inject my personal life here a bit less than I’ve done in the past.

We also now have a Genlighten fan page on Facebook: try this link, or just type “” into Facebook’s search box.

A YouTube channel (for Genlighten how-to and help videos) and a account (for presentations) are still in the planning phases.

Me as CEO and Co-Founder

Because I want to continue to communicate in an informal way with the Genlighten community as well as with friends, family and colleagues, I’m now maintaining a personal blog at Since Genlighten, family history research, and the entrepreneurial worldview are such a huge part of my life at the moment, you can expect my nicelittleniche posts to focus on those three areas. But you’ll also get the occasional update on my family or the fun things we have going on when we’re not Genlightening.

In case you’re wondering, the title for the personal blog was inspired by a visitor to our booth at a Genealogy Conference last year, who, when she heard what we were up to, said without the slightest hint of condescension: “Oh… that’s a nice little niche.” [grin]

I’ll continue to share 140-characters-or-less views of my day-to-day experiences via my personal Twitter account, @hikari17.

And if you just can’t get enough of us…

…You can also follow my account on FriendFeed here. That way you’ll get both the personal and the corporate perspective in one place.


Blog Influence, Engagement and “‘Deceptive’” Statistics

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Charlie O’Donnell at Path101 responded to Fred Wilson‘s post earlier today on deceptive statistics by asking his readers to link, post, comment, Digg… whatever, all in an effort to measure the influence his blog really has, as well as the engagement of his readers. Though his perspective is that of a startup entrepreneur (rather than a genealogy enthusiast), the issues he raises seem highly relevant to Genealogy bloggers and their audiences.

I’ll offer an example. At the recent Summit at the SCGS Jamboree, Leland Meitzler brought up the power of RSS feeds for quickly retrieving the latest from our favorite blogs. Several panelists indicated they used RSS themselves, but few seemed to have a good feel for who their RSS subscribers were and just how engaged they really were. I forget who said it, but I recall the comment being made that it wasn’t feasible to serve ads to (and gain ad revenue from) RSS subscribers. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’m pretty confident that the folks at Feedburner would beg to differ. My point is this: we could probably all stand to understand the significance of our readership stats a little better. [Randy Seaver's analyses of his site's stats stand out as an example of what we could be doing in this regard.]

Back to Charlie’s post — he asked a pointed question that I’d like to pass along to the readers of this blog:

“If the people reading aren’t doing anything, either passing your message on or responding, what’s the point of having readers?”

Personally, as a perennial ‘lurker’ on many blogs and message boards, I’m inclined to disagree. What do you think?