Monday, September 29, 2014

Closing of Family Wiki on Wikispaces

For some years now we have had a family wiki on Wikispaces, but we were recently told that it would have to close. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, as it will result in numerous broken links, which we will try to fix when we discover them, but we don't have time to go looking for them.

This is the notice that we received from the owners of Wikispaces:

Today we announced on our blog that Wikispaces is no longer offering a free wiki option for non-education wikis. is currently not categorized as an education wiki and it is on our free plan. In order for it to remain active, it must be categorized as an education wiki or upgraded.
We are notifying you, as you are an organizer of this wiki.
If you no longer use this wiki, you may ignore this email.
Otherwise you may categorize this wiki as an education wiki, pay for this wiki, or export the contents of this wiki for use offline or on another service. To make your choice please visit the following link:
If you take no action this wiki will be deleted in no fewer than 30 days.
If you have any questions please let us know.
The Wikispaces Team
We have downloaded the contents of the site, as they suggested, in WikiText, PDF and HTML formats, just to save the work that had been done on it. Maybe one day we may look for a new host for it, but that is not a high priority, because having a family wiki didn't seem to work too well, and it achieved nothing that could not be done with our family history blog.

When we started it, we thought it might give an opportunity for collaborative family history, with a group of people contributing information, family stories and more. We hoped that others would be moved to start family wikis for their own families, in which shared family members could be linked.

But somehow this never worked out.

Though our family wiki seemed to get about 50-80 visitors a day, it was very rare indeed for any of them to contribute anything to it, or even leave a message to say that they had visited and found, or not found, what they were looking for. It seems that for most people, wikis are not a good way of collaborating, and most prefer things like blogs and mailing lists -- we've certainly had far more interaction on those that we ever had on the wiki.Some even like to use Facebook, though that seems to be altogether the wrong medium for such a purpose.

So we won't be looking for a new home for the wiki any time soon, but we'll keep the archives as a memento.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Can you use Pinterest for Genealogy?

I forget why I joined Pinterest -- probably because a friend or family member invited me to do so. I've used it very little, and have never really understood how it works or what it is supposed to do. So I welcomed this article, which is the clearest and most lucid explanation of how it is supposed to work that I have ever seen. Perhaps Pinterest could include it on their site for bewildered newcomers. If, like me, you joined Pinterest without really knowing what it was about, it's worth reading, whether you are into genealogy or not. Can you use Pinterest for Genealogy?:
The real use of Pinterest is that each image is associated with its website of origin. So if you are the type of person that remembers things visually, you can use the pins or individual images as reminders of the content of the original websites. It is also possible to do “research” on Pinterest on a given topic. If you search for a particular topic, the results will show all of the pins relating to that topic. Each of the images is really a link to the website where the image originated, so by clicking on the images you can effectively go directly to that website. In this way, Pinterest becomes just another way of organizing and finding content on the Internet.

If you need a place to store genealogically related websites you encounter on the Internet, you can pin an image from the site and then you will have a visual reminder of the site on your Pinterest board. This may ultimately be more useful for finding content, especially if you are a person who thinks visually. Also, if you run across a photo of family members on the Internet, you can pin the image and not only capture the image, but also a link to the website where you found the image.

From that I would conclude that Pinterest is a kind of visual blog, in the original sense of blog, as a web log, a place where you make a list of web sites you have visited and would like to have a record of so you can visit them again.

I have a blog that I use mainly for that original blogging purpose, Simple Links, and I find it quicker and easier to use than Pinterest.

I have several other blogs, which I use for different purposes rather than as simple web logs -- a couple for observations on the world around me, ideas I want to share and discuss with friends, and also genealogy and family history, where I write up some of our research and discoveries for other family members to read.

I have two family history blogs. There is this one, which, like the Simple Links one, does more or less fulfil the original purpose of a web log -- it is mainly links to web sites that I find interesting or useful for genealogical and historical research, like this article, for example. I publicise this blog a bit more than the Simple Links one because I think that some of the links that interest me may be of interest to other genealogists too.

The second blog, Hayes and Greene Family History, is mainly a sort of research log, recording things we have found and problems we have encountered in the course of our family history research. They are things we like to share with other people, because other family members may be interested in research findings, and others may be able to help with some of the queries. But none of these things seems to be served very well by Pinterest. If I want a log of web sites visited that I may want to visit again, I find my Simple Links blog works better. If it is specifically genealogy web sites I want to record, then I use this blog. But I find Pinterest rather confusing and more complicated to use. Other people's minds may work in that way, but mine doesn't seem to, so I look at Pinterest maybe about once in three months, if that.

If I want a visual record of a web page with some of its content, including pictures, with a link back to the original; site, I find Evernote much better. That still works even if the original web site has disappeared -- you can clip whole artlcles, or even pages, to Evernote.

But if you want to know what Pinterest is supposed to do, this article is pretty good.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Genetic map of Britain

A genetic mapping project at the University of Oxford has shown a surprising degree of clustering in different geographical regions of the UK.

Genetic map of Britain goes on display - University of Oxford:
On the genetic map of Britain, Cornish people clustered separately from those from Devon, while the Scottish and Irish tended to share the same DNA markers. Those in South Wales formed a group, while there were separate clusters in the Welsh borders and in Anglesey in North Wales. People in Orkney were different from everyone else. In England, the majority of the South, South-East and Midlands formed one large group. Cumbria, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders seemed to share a common past. And Lancashire and Yorkshire, despite their rivalry, seemed to be as one genetically.

In the project DNA samples were taken from 4000 people whose four grandparents all came from the same area. so this does not necessarily tell about the entire UK population, but rather about those whose ancestors tended to stay put where they were born.

It would be interesting to see if a sample was taken of people whose great grandparents, or great great grandparents had all come from the same area,  as the genetic variations would probably become clearer still, though it might be more difficult to find a sample as many people do not know the names of all their great grandparents, much less where they were born. I certainly didn't know the names of all mine until I started genealogical research 40 years ago.