At Facebook, genealogists are creating profiles, posting updates on their current research or endeavors, posting online family trees with special Facebook applications, working together to solve genealogical mysteries (such as with the Unclaimed Persons group) and sharing little bits of themselves and their lives. The beauty of Facebook is that you can be as involved or as passive as you wish. You can choose to share many personal details, or keep primarily to yourself. It took me months before I even got up the nerve to post a photo of myself! But Facebook definitely helped me feel more at ease last week when I attended the FGS Conference - I felt like I already knew so many people because we were "Facebook friends!" And it was awesome to meet all of you in person - especially my dinner buddies!
Another application which just launched which has a potentially interesting application for genealogiss is Screen2, a collaborative "Internet surfing" tool. This tool allows people to share the view of your Internet browser with anyone online - so one user can surf the Web or search a genealogy database, while the other user can tag along and watch what they are doing, or try it for themselves. Unlike desktop sharing applications, Screen2 only shares the browser view, and it requires no software installation. I haven't tried it out personally yet, but it seems like it could be an interesting tool for collaborative online genealogy searches.
And then there is the very unique genealogy collaboration going on in Second Life - a virtual world complete with avatars. Two well-known genealogists, Pat Richley (aka Dear Myrtle) and Craig Scott can be found there on Tuesday evenings meeting with other family historians from all over the world in Just Genealogy - a comfortable place to learn how to research your family history. Craig, whose avatar is named Krag Mariner, is easy to spot in his kilt, while Myrt (avatar Clarise Beaumont) looks like a true southern belle. In this virtual world, you can listen to the genealogy discussion, and those with headsets or microphones can join in verbally. Those without mics can participate via chat. There are other genealogy groups hanging out in Second Life as well - check out UGG - the Union of Genealogy Groups to find more.
If you want to check out Second Life for yourself, you just need to create a virtual persona and download some software. The free account will allow you to explore the virtual world and participate in the various genealogy groups. What a interesting application for genealogy collaboration!
Do you have a favorite online place or tool for online genealogy collaboration and networking? Share it with us!