It is a whirlwind with speeds equivalent to a tornado. Every day there is something new, something changed, something added. If I miss a day, it's catch up time until my brain is saturated with technology ... more than I ever want to know. I am somewhat addicted to blogs and Facebook and webinars and podcasts. Why? Will my genealogy research and life continue without them?
I have been researching since I was a teenager in high school. This was proper researching as my mother hired a mentor who had great genealogy knowledge and research skills to instruct me "the right way." She didn't tell me what to do, she led me in the right direction and allowed me to make my decisions (right or wrong) and evaluate the source, information and evidence, thus reaching a conclusion. I'm no spring chick ... my 70th birthday is fast approaching. I've been at this genealogy "stuff" for a long time!
After all these years of research for myself and clients, why should I care about technology and networking? The primary reason is that if I don't care, my research comes to a halt. Yes, I'm still researching and will until I can't remember my name. Of course, that may be soon as I sometimes can only remember what happened to my ancestor in 1849 instead of what I'm doing in 2013.
How much knowledge do we need to do proper genealogical research? What is proper genealogical research? That's the division point between the novice and the experienced and professional genealogist. Are we trying to educate the world? Maybe! I have learned early on that I can't get enough genealogical education. The key to success is how we educate. My local genealogy society has started a monthly study group. The topic is anything they wish to discuss with a theme each month. They are like sponges and I delight in hearing their questions and their comments that they are learning.
HOWEVER, there comes a time that I have to put to practice what I am learning, be it technology, digital imagery, or techniques for retrieving information. A few years ago while lecturing at a conference, a genealogist told me that she knew what she wanted to do with a particular source, if she just knew where to locate it. Are we just listening, sharing and relying too heavily on social media and Internet for the answers? Are we not applying any of the skills we learned from school-days? If a teacher in high school asked you to find an answer, you did it or at least attempted to do it. Why are you suddenly mentally blocked when it comes to genealogy? When is the last time you actually applied what you are learning? When I lecture I stress to those attending to go home and practice what I preach.
In some respects I envy the beginner who is entering information on a pedigree chart for the first time. They are seeing their ancestry with "new eyes" for the first time. How many of us old-timers have actually looked back to the beginning of our pedigree chart in awe? Each day I try to wean myself from the social aspects of genealogy and the webinars and podcasts and blogs and look at my own ancestry. There's a lot there, so I mainly review some of my notes with a new outlook and then apply all the new education I have received in this new 21st century world of genealogy.
My genealogy world is spinning, pulling and tugging and I am learning and whirling every day. Each day I have to say WHOA! and remember why I am doing genealogical research. That's when I practice what I have learned and continue to learn. I am sure that if I miss a new database or the latest digital information, my colleagues and genealogy friends will notify me. That's the blessings of social media. The true blessing is to actually do genealogical research.