Recently I received an invite to beta test the new Who Do You Think You Are? storytelling platform at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarestory.com/. The premise of the website is to get visitors to replicate the family tree often shown on the television show using their own family history data and photos.
Storytelling has taken a big leap into the digital world over the past few years. DC Thomson Family History Limited, owners of Find My Past and other genealogy research sites, provide Who Do You Think You Are? Story as one storytelling option.
How WDYTYA Story Works
The Who Do You Think You Are? Story site is easy to use and the premise is similar to that of other family tree-building sites: create a login, verify login, create a profile, add info about yourself and family members, etc.
The process of uploading photos is quick and what I like is this: if you can’t find a photo with just that one ancestor in it, you can upload a group photo and then select the face image for your ancestor – a nice touch! Another nice feature is the ability to email a family member to get additional information for your story.
Once all the data is input, the story has a “play” button which tells your family story via the photos and text. One aspect of the storytelling about which I’m undecided is the addition of “events.” I understand the need to put a family’s history in historical context but this seems to clutter the story in my opinion.
Finally, at the end you can share your story via Facebook and Twitter or even email. What isn’t clear is that your story is hidden until you share and then you can make the story hidden again. As with the birth date privacy issue below, I think Find My Past needs to be more upfront about where my uploaded data will appear and who will have access. I realize there is a Terms and Conditions for the site, but it is always better to call out privacy control mechanisms than to bury them in a governing document.
Some Tweaks Needed to WDYTYA Story
Understanding that the product is still in beta testing mode, I took the opportunity to send the following feedback about my WDYTYA Story experience:
- Privacy concerns: I had to enter my birth date and I was unable to hide that date (or at least, I couldn’t figure out a way to do so). I noticed that when I added my parents’ birth dates, I could provide a decade range (“the 1940s”) but not for myself. I consider this a “show stopper” which would prevent me from sharing my story publicly via social media (and why I’ve chosen not to do so).
- Location issues: I was born in Liberty, New York – a very small town in upstate New York – and all I could select from in the drop down list was Liberty, Missouri and Libertyville, Illinois. I had to settle for New York, United States. I recommend that the programmers somehow leverage the Google Maps API for concise location selection. Also, there could be a benefit in the future if I could then pin events to a Google Maps generated map similar to Pinterest’s map function.
- Generated family tree: I didn’t see any method of taking all the work I had performed – manually entering family tree information – and then joining Find My Past and importing such information into a tree. This seems like a lost marketing opportunity if you ask me.
- My profile image. I swear I look like the Sun Baby in Teletubbies when I view my story. I’d love it if I could decide on the cropped area of my photo instead of letting WDYTYA Story decide.
The Who Do You Think You Are? Story site is fun and easy to use. Right now it is a bit UK-centric which is understandable given where the WDYTYA originated and where Find My Past is based. It would be nice if given all the effort it takes to add family members and photos that this could then be converted to a Find My Past family tree if a user were not already a member of Find My Past. Also, there need to be some changes in terms of privacy (see above).
Overall, the Who Do You Think You Are? Story platform is a great way to get a friend or family member interested in genealogy and family history.
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©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.