20 February 2009

If your blog died today...

"If your blog died today, what would it be remembered for?" asks ProBlogger Darren Rowse.

I realized that since obits are part of what we geneabloggers deal with, this might be an excellent exercise. I haven't written these yet for Tracing the Tribe, but perhaps this would make for an interesting Carnival of Genealogy.

Jasia, what do you think of scheduling this? It sounds like a good motivational activity for our community. footnoteMaven, can you do a badge for this one?

Darren posted a two-part exercise that should take about 30 minutes. Others might think obits are morbid, but geneabloggers are used to handling those sort of records and it shouldn't make us too squirmy.

1. Write an obituary for your blog 10 years in the future

Project yourself forward 10 years, imagine that at that point you decide to end your blog having achieved everything that you want to achieve with it and write a short obituary about your blog as you’d like other people to have seen it to that point.

Keep in mind that your blog has been as successful as it can be and you’re ending it at the peak of its game.

- What do you want people to say about your blog?
- How do you hope it will have been perceived?
- What will people miss about it the most?
- What ground has it broken?
- What has it achieved?
- How has it helped people?

Take 10 minutes to write this obituary and dare to dream big.

2. Write an obituary for your blog as it stands today

OK - back to the present. Let's just say that you blog ended today. Perhaps it was hacked, perhaps you just decided to delete it or perhaps your server died and you didn’t have a backup - the reason doesn’t matter - the exercise remains the same.

- Write an obituary for your blog as you think others see it now.
- What would they say about it?
- What would people miss about it?
- What has it achieved?
- How has it fulfilled a need or service in people’s lives.
- What ground has it broken?

Bloggers, writes Darren, should compare the two obits (future and present) and ask themselves if they are moving in the right direction and then make some plans to move from the "present reality to the future dream."

There are numerous comments, and in scanning them, I came across Digital Family Trunk by Rob in New Zealand. If Rob's blog isn't on your reading list, it should be. Each of his posts poses numerous questions that genealogists and family historians should be asking themselves.

Others posed questions related to the Problogger item: If a genealogy blogger met his or her demise, who would let readers know? If the blogger goes, who will blog the information? And, what would happen to our collective accounts on Twitter, Facebook and other sites?

Finally, will all the work we have done on our respective blogs be part of our own memorials?


  1. Well if this isn't a thought provoking blog post I don't know what is.

    I think it would make a wonderful COG topic! The only COG edition that doesn't have a topic assigned to it for 2009 is the October 1st one. I'll be happy to put this topic on it. Would you like to be the hostess for that edition? I'm not meaning to put you on the spot, I just want to give you first dibs since it was your idea.

  2. One example we have is that of my friend, Ken Aitken whose Genealogy Education blog is still available online at http://genealogyeducation.wordpress.com.

    Ken had time to prepare for his demise and his son did the honors with Ken's obituary as the current post.

    I won't write the obituary for Genea-Musings yet...I'll wait for the Carnival if we have one.

    Interesting questions -- thanks!

  3. The October 1 Carnival of Genealogy will focus on Blog Obituaries. Thanks to Jasia for the suggestion. Geneabloggers now have lots of time to get their entries ready for this one. Watch for more information.

  4. Randy, thank you for reminding us of Ken Aitken. It was one of the first geneablogs I discovered.

  5. Schelly:

    I can do a poster for anything!

    Ken was so kind to me when I first started and was afraid to comment. I used to email him and he eased me into comments. A lovely man.

    A Blog Obituary it is!


  6. Anonymous12:05 AM

    Thankyou for the recommendation.
    Darren asks "what would you like your blog to be remembered for?" I'm more worried about "Will there be any trace of your blog?" I have a fairly successful blog (http://www.itskeptic.org) which now represents over a thousand hours' work and I have just compiled the best of it (so far) into a 450 page book (not including comments). That's quite a body of work.
    When my son's kids ask him "what did Grand-dad do?" he'll have the book to show. But that doesn't really reflect the blog, just my ideas.
    And I have a dozen other sites not in books...
    Then there are all our family photos which now only exist digitally...
    What trace will I leave?

  7. Well, we certainly do not all have the opportunity to write our own obits!

    Schelly, I also thank you for mentioning Ken Aitken. He was my instructor in two courses through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, and I had the opportunity to have two telephone conferences with him as part of the coursework. He was a genuinely concerned and helpful person. I discovered his blog not long before he became ill, and I participated to a limited extent. The posts and discussions were extremely helpful.

    So now I suppose I should start working on my obituary.