Games in Social Networks

Ferris wheelI don’t really understand all the hostility towards games in social networking sites. Aside from the annoyance of being told about all the gaming achievements of each person who plays games, which can be turned off even in Facebook, what is the problem with other people playing games?

Games have always been a part of social interaction, and not just for children. Games are fun, and we all need some fun. We play cards, bridge, mah jong, chess, checkers and so on; not to mention sports like tennis, squash and golf. Sports are played not only for the fitness aspects (don’t forget the golf buggies) but because people are competitive. We like to pitch ourselves against others in a competitive environment and strive to win, and we like the feeling when we do win.

Social networks like Facebook and now Google+ can accommodate all types of social interaction. I like Google+ for the discussions it makes possible and the new people I am meeting and engaging with. I don’t have a problem with the introduction of games. It was inevitable. I’m pleased, though, to hear that there will be a separate area for them so I don’t have to hear whenever someone has reached a new level in Farmville or needs help with a job in Mafia Wars.

I don’t have a problem, or even a feeling of superiority, about people who play Farmville or Mafia Wars. I play games in Facebook myself, although these days I restrict myself to just one game. Games can be distracting and a good excuse for procrastination. I have met some lovely people within Australia and around the world by playing games; people who I would not otherwise have met; people who have been there for me when I need encouragement or sympathy in more serious areas of life.

Social media is about life, and games are a part of life.


Family history societies using social media

Trees and cloudy skyI have written previously about how family history societies can use social media and why I think they should. Social media is a great way to connect with people and let them know what you offer, especially people you may not otherwise reach.

I would love to start a list of societies that use social media – Facebook, Twitter, a blog, Flickr, YouTube, and so on – and put it on this site somewhere. Currently the list is so small that it seems almost counter-productive, but I am willing to try it.

If your society uses social media in any way, or you know of a society that uses it, please let me know.

Twitter for family historians

What is Twitter?

Twitter is what is known as a microblog.

You can send and receive messages, called tweets. A tweet can be a maximum of 140 characters. Tweets can be seen, and searched, by everyone unless you restrict them only to your friends. You can search for messages by a single person, by a word or phrase, or by a topic or hashtag, which is word, often abbreviated, with a # in the front of it. A tweet you particularly like can be retweeted to your followers.

Tweets can include links to websites, including blogs and photo-sharing sites. You are usually able to use a web address shortener to save some of those precious 140 characters, so that:

might become

Why use Twitter?

You can also search for people. People in Twitter are shown with a @ in front of their name. In Twitter I am known as @CaroleRiley, and this blog is known as @SocialMediaGen. Once you have found a person you are interested in you can follow them. This means that all of their tweets will appear in your feed.

SocialMediaGen on Twitter

You can unfollow them at any time. You can also retweet the tweets that you like for your followers to read.

You can follow people you know to see what they have to say – journalists, commentators, politicians, comedians, conservationists, actors, religious leaders, social media experts – they all have something interesting to say to those who are interested. Here are a very few examples:





@mashable – social media and technology

You can also follow organisations that interest you – archives, libraries, societies, genealogy organisations, and so on.








Many organisations release news first on Twitter, and if they don’t then others probably will. Here is an example from recent posts by State Records NSW:

SRNSW on Twitter

You can also follow people that are interested in the same things that you are. The best ones to follow are the ones that are good at collecting and retweeting information from other people and organisations, so that you don’t have to wade through a lot of stuff you are not so interested in. Some people are more addicted to Twitter than others, and they do the sifting so that you don’t have to!

Get involved

Hashtags are used to keep conversations together. If you do a search in Twitter for the hashtag you can see everything that has been posted on that topic. If you watch QandA on ABCTV on Monday nights you can follow the hashtag #QandA to see what people are saying about the program as it is running. It’s more fun than it probably sounds, and as long as you ignore the comments about hairdos and so on it can be very interesting.

Hastags are also used when something big is happening. You have probably read in the news about how national revolutions such as the recent one in Egypt have been organised and spread through the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

I was watching Twitter during the Queensland floods earlier this year and sitting in front of the TV. The news on Twitter was by far the most up-to-date. There was some mis-information, as there is on any TV news channel when news is only trickling in, but most of it was real, from people who were in the thick of it watching the water coming up, and from authorities telling us locals what was going on and what they should do. Even the photos and videos being shared through Twitter were hours ahead of the news programs, and many of the best ones were later shown over and over on the news, including the ABC.

It is also becoming more common for Twitter to be used for events such as the recent NSW Expo at Coffs Harbour. Presenters and visitors can all tweet about their experiences and what they are learning, and those who can’t attend can learn too, and almost feel like they are there.

NSWExpo on Twitter

Get answers

Once you have a reasonable following of like-minded twitterers you can ask questions and get answers. I’ve seen people asking for advice on gadgets to buy, software issues, research problems, and recommendations for places to go, and they get good results. Yes, you can do this by email as well, but Twitter is quicker and behaves more like a normal conversation. You may get answers from people you don’t even know!

I don’t log in every day, but when I do I always learn something I didn’t know before.

Do you use Twitter?

Another genealogy community website – Sirius Genealogy 2.0

Yesterday I received an email about a new website called Sirius Genealogy 2.0. The email said, in part:

Sirius Genealogy 2.0 (SG2) is pleased to announce that we have completed our transformation from a simple blog, into a complete online community for Amateur & Professional Genealogists. The old blog has been shut down and a new membership site has been launched and is publicly available. Membership is FREE! In addition to the general community atmosphere, SG2 has developed numerous Google Gadgets, Web Tools and other services to assist genealogists in their mission. Many more eliciting tools are on their way!

New or Improved Features:

  • Live Support via Chat (just look for the icon in the upper right corner of the site)
  • Articles, Article and more Articles (Member contributions encouraged).
  • Headline News: Links to related news stories from around the world.
  • Message Forums: Read what members are saying.
  • Speaker Bureau: A place to find speakers for your next genealogy or history related event.
  • Events Calendar: A place to find conferences and educational opportunities.
  • File Library: Forms, genealogies and more.
  • Word Of The Day: A new genealogy related word to challenge you each day!
  • Abbreviation Of The Day: A new abbreviation to challenge you each day!
  • Web Tools: Cousin calculators, age calculators, Soundex calculators and more.
  • Google Gadgets for iGoogle and your web pages.
  • Social Activity Monitors: See what genealogists are posting on twitter.
  • Marketplace: Look for a growing number of products for this area.

Member Only Features

  • Contributions: Get your articles, stories, events and speaker profiles posted.
  • Comment and Rate: Comment and Rate just about any page in the site.
  • Shoutouts: Post your quick genealogical thoughts to the entire community!
  • My Account: A place to manage your membership.
  • Message Forums: Meet, greet, share ideas and success stories in the forums!

So, we hope to see you in our new community. Please sure to stop in at the forums to tell us what you would like to see in the future.

I went in to have a look, and there’s a lot to see. Some of the options I clicked on needed me to sign in, so I signed in using my Facebook account and created a profile.

My “Home State or Provence” [sic] is ‘Non-US’, which tells me what I most need to know about the site. It is USA-centric. At least Non-US is at the top of the drop-down list, rather than at the bottom as it usually is.

I can see that this kind of thing might be useful. It seems to me that I have too many sites to keep track of as it is without adding another one that is unlikely to contain anything of immediate interest to an Australian.

I wish them all the best, whoever ‘they’ are.