Occupy Genealogy

With a variety of Occupy protests taking place here in the United States and worldwide, I’ve watched the nightly news, read the online news sites and generally have kept tabs on both the issues and theatrics involved.

My intent is not to offer my opinion of the Occupy movement but to ponder the concept of an Occupy Genealogy movement. Seem silly?  Not really if you’ve followed recent changes in the genealogy community over the past few years.

But is there an Occupy Genealogy movement and, in fact, is one really needed? There is, and there isn’t and here’s why an Occupy Genealogy movement is nothing like the current ongoing protests:

  • Changes have been taking place in the genealogy industry during the past five plus years but without much noisy protest or clamor. Sure, we’ve had our moments: push back of the social media and blogging concept, copyright issues, etc. But as I see it, much of the change came about through healthy discourse and dialog. No bullhorns, no signs, no tear gas.
  • Slowly the community sees the value in various initiatives such as webinars, social media, blogging, and education. And there is room for a variety of voices and opinions. Discourse and discussion is lively, sometimes heated, but almost always positive and productive. There will always be naysayers and those who think any change is negative. But like most of our ancestors, and despite our obsession of “looking back,” we are a forward-looking people.
  • Genealogists see a difference in “holding on to the past” and “researching the past.” We cling to our ancestors as a means of learning about their lives and ultimately, about our own. But, for the most part, we are open to new ways of doing so, new ways of finding what is old.
  • What does it mean to “occupy genealogy?” To me, it means that I am right there in the thick of it. I get involved whether it is on the local level with a genealogy society, or on the national level with discourse, blogging and discussion, or on the international level with projects like Genealogists for Families. I am not content with just “witnessing” genealogy, I want to participate. I don’t want to merely consume the resources of the genealogy community and run off to my own corner of the world and see what I could get. I want to fully occupy genealogy. And I want genealogy to occupy me.
  • And what occupies your genealogy? Are you taking full advantage of what the genealogy community has to offer? Conferences, social media, message forums, institutes, webinars, and all the other facets of our community?
  • Our ancestors occupied not just their communities, and their time periods, but they occupied a generation and a place in history. Those who didn’t participate fully are those barely noticed, those whose voices are difficult to hear.

* * *

I’m not trying to be controversial with this post or the post title. My goal is to get readers thinking. Think about your current role in the genealogy community and whether you need to amplify your voice, your opinion and your activity. And consider the rewards of doing so.

Weigh in with your opinion and tell us how you occupy genealogy over at today’s Open Thread Thursday post.

Oh, and for a laugh, click here and see how GeneaBloggers has already been “occupied.”

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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