Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The genealogy WORLD is on Twitter
I previously wrote a post called "Where do genealogists meet on the internet?" which questioned where genealogists go to discuss ideas and network. There were many possibilities and a nice discussion ensued.
Since then I have been spending more time on Twitter. I didn't go willingly onto Twitter (just as I didn't go willingly onto Facebook). A friend of mine (that would be you, Rob!) declared he was abandoning Facebook for Twitter. Not wanting to lose his witty company, I followed.
It took me awhile to get the hang of Twitter and to understand what this mysterious form of communication was all about. Do you know what I discovered? The WORLD of genealogy is on Twitter, not Facebook.
What do I mean by that exactly? Well, while I was on the APG list and Facebook I had a very American centric view of genealogy. It seemed to me that it was mostly American genealogists who were utilizing the web. When you have limited streams of information it is easy to fall into that kind of assumption.
On Twitter I discovered Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and the British of course as well as genealogists from other countries. It took a little getting used to the realization that these other groups had thriving genealogical communities of their own. How could I have been so wrong?
Part of the answer is that Twitter is a public forum while Facebook is private. When you post on Twitter everyone on the internet can see what you have "tweeted". When you use the tag #genealogy, everyone who follows that tag can immediately see the tweet.
Facebook on the otherhand, is based on "friending" people. If you are not friends with a particular person you will not see their posts. Some people on Facebook limit their friends to people they know in person. Others, like me, will friend most anyone who is a genealogist. What you see is based on how big your circle is. As a result your circle becomes more national-centric than worldly.
Twitter is not, however, a larger audience than Facebook numbers-wise. Twitter has far fewer members than Facebook. I don't have any statistical evidence for this but I would say that Facebook has many more genealogists than Twitter. Yet at the same time I would say that Twitter has greater impact with fewer people because those people potentially reach a far greater audience. Unfortunately, there is no way to calculate just how many people view an individual tweet.
So the next time you want to know what genealogists are doing in the rest of the world - get on Twitter!