Shaking the Family Tree – Shaken and Stirred!

Shaking the Family Tree

For weeks I had heard from my colleagues in the genealogy field about this “fantastic” book with genealogy as the main subject and by a woman with an “odd name.” Somehow I thought that footnoteMaven had finally written a comprehensive book about 19th century photography studios or about photos of women with glasses. Or perhaps it was a new tome by citation goddess Elizabeth Shown Mills under a nom de plume like I. Cites. Whatever it was, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy, based on the “buzz” the book was creating.

The Buzz

Well Buzzy is a better word – as in Buzzy Jackson, the author of Shaking the Family Tree – Blue Bloods, Black Sheep and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist. Jackson’s view of how a fairly innocent hobby like genealogy can become an obsession is not only accurate but she is also able to convey how many genealogists – both the hobbyist and the professional – feel about searching for family history.

When I told a non-genealogy friend about Shaking the Family Tree, she said, “Well I knew you were possessed by this genealogy thing. Now I just think you are possessed.” Why do I want to climb to the top of a tree and shout about this book? Because what Jackson has written is simply what I would sit down and tell someone who asks, “So what does genealogy involve? And why are genealogists so obsessed with it?”

The Journey

Buzzy Jackson’s journey which begins innocently with attending a local genealogical society meeting could be any genealogist’s journey. Over the course of the book readers not only find out more about Jackson’s own family, but how the process of searching for ancestors has changed thanks to the Internet as well as the availability of DNA testing. In fact, I was very impressed by the logical way in which Jackson described DNA testing and its genealogical uses – it is probably one of the best summaries on the subject that I’ve seen.

With humor as well as poignant details, Jackson has been able to encapsulate all the fascinates genealogists in an engaging book. Jackson covers it all: the brick walls, the genealogy research trips, the interviews with family members and more. With the holiday shopping season upon us, not only would this make a great gift for the genealogist in your life, but also for those who’ve expressed an interest and want to learn more about genealogy.

Got Genealogy?

Buzzy Jackson “gets” genealogy and understands its many aspects, its traditions and what the future holds for the industry. And luckily for us, she has been able to communicate the “pull” that genealogy can have on one’s life and she’s willing to share it in Shaking the Family Tree. Not only will readers be shaken but hopefully they’ll be stirred to start their own hunt for their ancestors. Then they’ll understand the life of the genealogy-obsessed.

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Disclaimer: I contacted Touchstone Books/Simon and Schuster about receiving a review copy of the book Shaking Your Family Tree at no cost in consideration of writing a review. This material connection had no effect on the outcome of the review and the review was performed based on the merits of the written work of the author. See Disclosure Statements for more information on the material connections I have with various genealogy and non-genealogy vendors.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

About Those Link Exchange Offers

link exchange

It starts with a simple email. The sender explains that they’d like to exchange links with you – often called “reciprocal link exchange” – and that this would mean you placing a link to their site somewhere on your site and vice versa.

Have you thought about what this arrangement really means? Why a website – especially one that is not in the same subject area as yours – would want to exchange links with you? What actually happens when you post that link?

Why Exchange Links

For many sites, the goal is to appear in the top 10 search results on Google, Bing and other search engines for key words, such as genealogy. There are many factors that go into the algorithm or “formula” used by each search engine and this formula, like the formulas for Coke and Kentucky Fried Chicken – are top secret.

Using Google as an example, theories abound but one proven theory is that the more incoming links your site has, the higher your page rank. This is why some website owners will try to send out emails – spam emails – to lists of other website owners asking to exchange links.

Gaming The System

So rather than focus on websites in their same subject area, these website owners will target any and every type of website, especially those that have a higher page rank than theirs. This link exchange then is not based on a relationship of “I think your site adds value to the community or subject area, so let me post a link on my website,” but one of just collecting links to other sites.

Avoid The Pitch

Personally, I delete emails asking for a link exchange for the most part. If I happen to be familiar with the website and it is focused on genealogy, I might consider posting a link on one of my blogs or websites.

Just as with any relationship on the Internet, you really should know who you are dealing with when responding to these requests. And who knows, over time the “formula” for search engines may change and with all these links you may be doing more harm to your own ranking.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

GeneaBloggers Needs Twitter Followers


Well GeneaBloggers has broken Twitter.  Well not the entire Twitter, but our own Twitter account.

Due to certain limitations imposed by Twitter, we can’t follow any more Twitter users since we are now following just over 2,000 of you. So, we need to bring up the number of Twitter users following GeneaBloggers so they numbers are in synch.  Only then can we begin to follow more people.

So, if you’ve not already followed us, please click here to do so. Also pass along this info to your other Twitter followers.  Your help is greatly appreciated!

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee