Digital Estate

my lasting imprint online

Archive for March, 2009

The Social Digital Legacy Era

Posted by Paul on March 31, 2009

When Facebook was originally envisioned, I’m pretty sure that few people could have foreseen how it would turn out a few years down the line. Over time we have clearly changed the way in which we interact with others on line, as well as the way we interact with the tools themselves. The same is also true of many of the ‘first to market’ social networks that have organically evolved in recent years. Our use has now changed to the point where there are some glaring contradictions that are either ignored or not recognized in the ways we connect and share online.

Top 5 (ish) Contradictions in Our Social Networks:
· The increasing amount of personal information being shared on open networks with barely known acquaintances
· The popularity of general purpose social networks in fulfilling specialized needs for our communities
· The brevity of our accounts versus the longevity of the content we create
· The value of our presence and contribution and the challenges in monetizing it
· The ownership of valued networks and information versus the policies which currently govern them
· The singularity and clarity of a shared message/sentiment amid the noise of millions
· The connectivity created within the networks themselves with the restrictions in the interfaces between them
· The volume of information created, versus the lack of attention to retaining the information that has true value

Are these contradictions really a problem? My view: some are, some aren’t – and of course they are related. The key question to ask is: “Will these contradictions take care of themselves over time or is intervention required by us the social participants?”.

The monetization of our contribution and the value of information – people inherently understand that mass involvement means opportunity, and opportunity means money. The market will take care of the rest, and already is in Second Life and maybe soon in Facebook.

Sharing personal information on open social networks
– for now this is a problem. While the herd is getting larger, you can’t quite convince yourself that there really is safety in numbers. We the participants need to increase our social portfolios by choosing appropriate networks for the kinds of information we are sharing. This in-turn will reduce the barriers between networks and drive specialized networks tuned to our communication and information sharing needs. In the long run this will work itself out as people realize that sharing more personal information with more people doesn’t necessarily add more value.

The longevity and amount of information we create – for a couple of reasons this could be a problem for now.

Firstly, most established spaces will be reluctant to let go of the policy grip they have over the information we have put on “their” networks. In some cases these sites have responsibilities and have to spend money policing the content that gets uploaded. This will get worse as the war over digital rights continues and the monetization of our networks continues…. sounds a little like ownership don’t you think? Right now the issue of ownership has been left cloudy by stories of information retention on account closure and immortalization of deceased peoples accounts.

The second reason is a more lofty and for me more important issue; about what happens to our information once we are gone and what do we think is worth keeping. The idea that we should retain information is not a new one, but the suggestion that some content from our Facebook or Twitter account should be considered an information asset or information heirloom to be passed on, is quite a foreign concept to most. There are however a few forward thinkers out there already verbalizing this idea of a Digital Estate. I am excited to find out where this leads, but it’s often the lofty issues that get left by the wayside, and as a social networking entrepreneur I am not prepared to leave this to chance.

Most leaders of social networks are aware of at least one or two of these contradictions, since solving them secures their future or their fortune. Maybe it’s not wise of us to leave these decisions in the hands of the few – after all isn’t social networking all about participation ?

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Posted in Ancestry, arcalife, Digital Assets, Digital Estate, Digital Legacy, Family History, Genealogy, Social Networks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Interview on Startups Live TV

Posted by Paul on March 20, 2009

logoTalking with Dennis Lankes yesterday on Startups Live TV gave me some renewed focus on our end goal with arcalife. Our aim is to unite past, present and futures families using memories, experiences and stories as a timeless bridge. To do this, we’ll need support from the genealogy community for their insight and knowledge, as well as a mainstream recognition and groundswell of buy-in to our site.

When you talk with people in the “tech biz” who see start-ups every day, it’s a real boost to hear that our site genuinely offers something new, different and fulfilling in the social networking and genealogy space. Our membership is already expanding rapidly and the team has high hopes for a true explosion of interest. Our Life Cube application on Facebook is one of our steps in bringing our message to the world – your memories and stories are the most important thing you leave as a legacy, arcalife can help you do it right … after all, you only have one shot.

Posted in Ancestry, arcalife.com, Digital Estate, Family History, Genealogy, Interview | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Interview On Roots TV

Posted by Paul on March 17, 2009

One of the best things about our UK launch was actually meeting many of the people who support and lead the genealogy space. We have been following them over the last few months, but there is no substitute for actually meeting people face to face. We had many nice compliments from fellow members of the competitive community. This, coupled with a warm reception from many well established and well known Genealogists, made the “Who Do You Think You Are Live” show a very pleasurable experience for myself and the arcalife team.

The best thing of all was the recognition that arcalife is genuinely bringing something new to people. Now that I have watched it back, my interview with Dick Eastman and Megan Smolenyak for Roots TV reminded me how nice the welcome was.

Watch the full Roots TV interview here.

Posted in Ancestry, arcalife, arcalife.com, Conference, Digital Estate, Event, Family History, family tree, Genealogy, Media, Memories, WDYTYA, Who Do You Think You Are | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wrap-Up From The UK:Who Do You Think You Are Live 09

Posted by Paul on March 4, 2009

arcalife At Genealogy Event Who Do You Think You Are Live 09
The UK genealogy show “Who Do You Think You Are” is over for another year. Talking to Dick Eastman and Megan Smolenyak I was surprised to hear that there is nothing like this In North America. Perhaps it’s the geography that prevents hundreds of thousands or even millions of Family historians from getting together to share their passion for the ‘artform’.

Attendance at the UK show was probably around 10 thousand this year, although official figures aren’t out yet. The next largest shows in the US, are less than a fifth of this size: Genealogy Jamboree, FGS in Little Rock and NGS in North Carolina.

How is it that when family history is so important to so many people that the world’s biggest market does not have any major celebration for this?

Clearly one answer is cost; the other seems to be that there are quite a few people thinking about putting on a show, but no one has quite got there yet. My hope is that the airing of the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are” in the US, with celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker and others, will provide the platform for the live show to be spun into action in the same way that it did in the UK.
With arcalife attending the show for the first time for its UK launch, we definitely took away the feeling that we had joined a community of companies (albeit competitive).

Thank-you to those who made us feel welcome, especially Megan Smolenyak, Dick Eastman, Nick Barratt, Olivier Van Calster, Charlotte Campion, Charlotte Wiberg and Chris Paton.

In all the show was highly successful and enjoyable for us. Here are some of our favourite moments: check out our YouTube Channel – you might just find yourself in there… We snapped a few photos as well. Would be great to reconnect with those we met and meet more of you out there – post a comment and let us know what you think!

Posted in Ancestry, arcalife, arcalife.com, Conference, Digital Estate, Event, Family History, family tree, Genealogy, Memories, NBC, Social Networks, Television Series, WDYTYA, Who Do You Think You Are | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »