Saturday, September 8, 2007

What is a Blog and Why Does EWGS Need One?

What is a Blog?

A blog is short for a web log or web journal. It's easiest to think of a blog as an online newsletter or newspaper. The most recent articles (called "posts" in the blogging world) will be listed at the top of this home page. Older posts are available as you scroll down the page, and the oldest posts are available by accessing the blog archive in the right-hand side bar. You can also search for your favorite post by using the search box in the upper left-hand corner of this page.

Just as a newspaper allows letters to the editor, so a blog usually has a place where you can add your comments of approval or disapproval on each post. I'll be writing more on that later.

Why Does EWGS Need a Blog?

There are many reasons a blog would benefit the Eastern Washington Genealogy Society as a whole, as well as its individual members.
  1. Information on a blog is instantaneous. As soon as a post is written by one of our reporters (bloggers), it will appear online. There will be no waiting for publication, like the information found in our quarterly, The Bulletin of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, nor will you need to wait for the end of the day to read news, as you do if you are subscribed to the digest version of our mailing list.
  2. A blog is easily and instantly corrected. If one of our bloggers makes a mistake in writing a post, they can quickly go back and fix it, instead of having to write another message, as we do with our mailing list.
  3. Local genealogical news and reviews of recent meetings will be other purposes of this blog. We will be featuring other local societies and their happenings, so that you, our reader, can benefit from attending other workshops and hearing speakers visiting in the area. If you missed one of our society meetings, you can "catch up" on what happened by reading a review of the last meeting.
  4. Whenever you read about genealogy news in a genealogy magazine or other publication, it is usually several months old. For instance, this last week, there was a major upset regarding's Internet Biographical Database. It was huge, and if you are not a regular reader of a genealogy blog, you missed it! Since these kinds of issues directly or indirectly affect you, it's vital that you keep up-to-date with the online genealogy world. This blog will help you do that. (You can read more about the IBD turmoil at Miriam's genealogy blog here and here.)
  5. Genealogy societies that are thriving are using blogs. We've all heard about the demise of societies, and while some blame the Internet, others are realizing that survival depends upon changing with the times. If we want to see younger, more active members joining our society, we need to offer them a society that appeals to them. Jasia, a genealogy blogger who was interviewed on this subject by Family Tree Magazine not long ago, has written a series on this topic on her blog, Creative Gene (see her series here). We bloggers here at EWGS have been inspired by another genealogy blogger, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, who as the president of the Chula Vista (California) Genealogy Society, has created a society blog, the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe.
  6. We want to keep the Inland Northwest, the country, and even the globe informed of our society's doings. Why? Because you never know where in the world someone is living who may have Eastern Washington roots! Our blog will show up in Google searches for Spokane genealogy. And as the host for the Washington State Genealogical Conference of 2009, we want to keep potential conference attendees abreast of what's happening here in Spokane.

Who Will Be Writing This Blog?

Currently, Miriam Robbins Midkiff is our editor-in-chief (administrator). She has been blogging about genealogy since January 2006, and of all our bloggers, has the most experience with this particular mode of communication. Our reporters (team members) include Donna Potter Phillips, who has several decades of experience writing about genealogy for popular national genealogy magazines and newsletters (Ancestry, Family Chronicle, and Bill Dollarhide's Genealogy Bulletin, to name a few). She also currently writes the "News Hotline" and "Stories from Our Cemeteries" features for our Bulletin, and is a past columnist for the "Heritage Hunting" feature of The Spokesman-Review, our local newspaper. Bette Butcher Topp is twice a past president of our society, and has been one of our most active contributors to our mailing list in the past. Because she has a way of keeping her ear to the ground to find genealogy news to share with the society, we have invited her to join our blogging team. Our society researcher, Charles Hansen, has been honored by many local societies and organizations for his volunteer contributions. Charles is one of the minority of our members who actually has Eastern Washington roots, and his experience in researching local records in the Spokane County Courthouse, the archives of the Eastern Washington State Historical Society, and our public library is invaluable. Like Donna and Bette, he is a Distinguished Service Member of EWGS.

Does This Blog Replace Our Mailing List, Bulletin, or the Newsletter?

No, it does not. The purposes of our mailing lists, our Bulletin, and our newsletter (the handout you receive at society meetings) are different from the purpose of our blog, and each of those communication pieces are still necessary and vital for our society.

While our mailing list will continue to be used for news updates, it is also a terrific place to leave queries (questions); that is not something the blog will be used for. Our Bulletin also will carry news, but in addition, it has lists of extracted records, articles, book reviews, and entries for our annual literary competitions. The blog cannot replace this rich resource. And because not everyone in our society has home access to the Internet, we continue to need our newsletter.
In later posts, I'll address how to use this blog, how to leave comments, and how to "subscribe" to this blog. I hope you'll return here often!

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