Friday, April 1, 2016

Time to step outside your comfort zone and discover the world of computers!

Remember that wonderful day when dad arrived home with a big box and pulled out another box with a small round screen on it? That was the day your family had its very own television set.  You turned out all the lights and sat in the dark watching something called a test pattern. And slowly but surely everyone learned how to turn it on and change the channels.

But, maybe you weren’t so lucky and had to wait for a while before you had one of those tiny screens in your living room. So, what did you do? Well, you could go downtown with a lawn chair and sit on the sidewalk and watch the ones in the storefront window. OR, you could find a friend!!

With all the technology at our fingertips today it is hard for most of us to imagine that there are people out there who do not have any idea how to use a computer. Even harder to believe is that there are people out there who do not want anything to do with computers.

Of course, there are good things and equally bad things about technology. Good thing: having genealogy records at your finger tips. Bad thing: sitting up until 3am looking for just one more ancestor.
With genealogy societies using more and more social media and technology via electronic newsletters, websites, Facebook, and blogs there is an increasing need for all members to have some sort of computer access just to keep informed.

Just to be clear, computer skills are not required for membership in a chapter of OGS or most genealogy societies. It just helps. So, we need to explore ways for a member to stay in contact with their chapter without a computer.

The most obvious way is for the chapter to send a printed copy of the chapter newsletter to members without computer access. This provides basic information about the activities of the group - meetings, events and conferences, research articles, and limited databases. Limited, basic information.

Meanwhile online, many more things are happening and this is where these members miss out on a lot of information. The chapter website may contain last minute changes in meeting and program information. New databases are added to the site plus information about  other online databases to be searched. On Facebook, people are communicating about long lost ancestors they have found, Cousins are meeting cousins. Local information known only to “locals” is shared. Unfortunately all of this is missed by the member who has no online access.
So, what to do? Let’s go back to that family who had no television set in the early days of tv. You find a friend, a relative, or, instead of a storefront window, a library. Your newsletter can be sent to a friend or a grandchild. They can print a copy for you. Not only will you receive it sooner, but also in in color. (Remember when color tv came out?)

If you want to see what is on the society's website or Facebook page and group, invite friends and relatives over for dinner and ask them to bring a tablet or laptop. Yes, tablet!

Best of all, local libraries have computers available for your use and librarians can help you get started. Many libraries have classes to help you get comfortable with online access. Some libraries even have free one on one sessions.

Although computers are a great way to keep you in touch with your genealogy group, there is also a whole world of genealogy research out there online. It is to your advantage to step outside your comfort zone and go explore it.

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