I was on Twitter the other day and saw link for a youtube video by My Heritage featuring the Photo Detective. I thought that the entire video was interesting, and I think that it is something that all genealogists do - that we are all our own Photo Detectives. But that was not what really got my attention.
You can see this as a plug if you want to. The representative for My Heritage emphasized the importance of digital preservation. Obviously, their website focuses on the creation of family trees and the sharing of information, and in his own way, he was encouraging those viewing the video to engage in his website.
But the call for digital preservation goes beyond that. This is a topic that I feel very strongly about - for which the evidence is this entire site (and this one too). A lot of the work that I did for my History MA, and in my own family history work, has been with a strong focus on digital preservation. With the wide world of the internet available at our finger tips, why shouldn't we share what we have with others? It is the easiest way to include everyone in a project, and to allow them access to sources that were previously unknown or difficult to access.
I know that there are a couple of issues with this, one being the decision of what to preserve and what to let go. My advice: as much as you can, preserve it and share it. Find a way for people to take joy in what you are able to share with them, and they will take joy in it! So many of my cousins see the pictures that I post, and they remember the picture being taken or they have a story about the people in the picture. It is a great way to make connections and learn about your family!
Another issue might be what you do with material items. My advice is to take pictures and make those available as well. Shoot a 360 video of the item, if you can. Preserve it yourself, but let people know that you have your great-grandfather's baby shoes - and show them the baby shoes!
I know that computer codes change, and that maybe one day these digital images will be gone, or morphed into something else other than a .jpg file - or whatever - but, at the same time, I have to acknowledge how many members of my family - close and distant - that are able to see pictures and faces and people that they have NEVER seen before.
I'm not necessarily telling you to take on creating a website for your family. But, what I am encouraging you is that you consider the importance of digitally preserving the physical images that you have. Put them on a hard drive. Put them on Facebook or Twitter. Make a blog for them. Do something so that someone else is aware that these pictures exist! Family history is an activity of collaboration...so collaborate!
Okay, vent over :)
I love family history and the various ways that it can be approached by researchers! I hope that this blog is interesting and inspiring!