Category Archives: Uncategorized

Monday’s Link Roundup.

It’s the beginning of another week and that means  some fascinating new stories in  Monday’s Link Roundup to get you started. My favorite is Dear Photograph. The picture that accompanies this article is particularly poignant.  And don’t miss Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of the Self-Interview. It illuminates a little known side of the Russian – American writer.

  • Whither Digital Video Preservation? “Finding appropriate digital preservation file formats for audiovisual materials is not an easy task.  While much of the recorded sound preservation realm has agreed upon the viability of the Broadcast Wave file format for sound materials, the video realm is still kind of the Wild West in that there is no broad consensus regarding what kinds of file formats or codecs are appropriate for preservation.”
  • Who’s on the Family Tree? Now It’s Complicated. “Genealogists have long defined familial relations along bloodlines or marriage. But as the composition of families changes, so too has the notion of who gets a branch on the family tree. Some families now organize their family tree into two separate histories: genetic and emotional. Some schools, where charting family history has traditionally been a classroom project, are now skipping the exercise altogether.”
  • DailyLit. “DailyLit sends you bite-sized chunks of public domain books (including many classics) daily, on weekdays, or three times a week via email or RSS — for free. Each serving takes less than five minutes to read, and if you want, they’ll send you the next installment right away if you click a link.”
  • Dear Photograph: A website with a window into the past. “In the past month, a summery, slightly sad website has made the trip from non-existence to international exposure. It’s called Dear Photograph, and its premise is simple: Take a picture of an old photo being carefully held up in front of the place it was originally taken, so it appears to be a window into the past.”
  • Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of the Self-Interview. “Nabokov—to my knowledge—never conducted an interview without having received and answered the questions in advance. Even when he appeared with Lionel Trilling on a “live” taped interview on a 1958 program called “Close Up” to discuss the controversy surrounding Lolita for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Nabokov reads his responses—on television—from his index cards.”
  • Immigrants to Canada Online. “Library and Archives Canada (LAC) holds the Canadian immigration records for the years 1865 to 1935. The lists are online, providing 23,482 references to immigration records held at Library and Archives Canada. Those passenger lists are the sole surviving official records of the arrival of the majority of people accepted as immigrants in Canada.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup, if you want 6 minutes of unadulterated pleasure, watch Language by Stephen Fry.  And keeping with this lighter vein, I encourage you to visit where you can improve your vocabulary with a fun quiz while at the same time doing some good in the world. Of course there are some serious articles as well.  Take a look at When Hard Books Disappear and what one man is doing about it.

  • Understanding Book Terminology. “…the top terms you need to understand if you want to carry on a conversation with a book professional about the design and layout of your book.”
  • Guide to 27 Commonly Misused Words. “We know by now that great copy and content often purposefully break the rules of grammar. It’s only when you break the rules by mistake that you look dumb.”
  • A discovery engine for narrative nonfiction. “It’s a nonfiction nerd’s fantasy: a database of nearly 30,000 feature stories, meticulously organized, sleekly presented, and fully searchable — by author, by publication, by topic., which launches today, wants to be the Pandora of narrative nonfiction.”
  • The British Library and Google to make 250,000 books available. “This project will digitise a huge range of printed books, pamphlets and periodicals dated 1700 to 1870, the period that saw the French and Industrial Revolutions, The Battle of Trafalgar and the Crimean War, the invention of rail travel and of the telegraph, the beginning of UK income tax, and the end of slavery. It will include material in a variety of major European languages, and will focus on books that are not yet freely available in digital form online.”
  • Language by Stephen Fry. “Using the wonderful words of acclaimed writer, actor and all round know it all (I mean that in the best of ways) Stephen Fry I have created this kinetic typography animation. If you like what you hear you can download the rest of the audio file from Mr. Fry’s website.” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.]
  • .  This site is absolutely addictive and fun. Not only do you improve your vocabulary but you do some good in the world. For each answer you get right, Freerice donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program to help end hunger.
  • When Hard Books Disappear. “A prudent society keeps at least one specimen of all it makes, forever. It still amazes me that after 20 years the only publicly available back up of the internet is the privately funded Internet Archive. The only broad archive of television and radio broadcasts is the same organization. They are now backing up the backups of books. Someday we’ll realize the precocious wisdom of it all and Brewster Kahle will be seen as a hero.”

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Warning: Avoiding the Digital Universe Will Hurt Your Business.

Let me begin by saying there are legitimate reasons to be wary of the ever expanding digital universe – a glut of junk information, loss of privacy, time wasting, and addiction. But there are also irrational fears at work based in part on our inherent resistance to  change.

Change happens. And a good thing too. Lucky for us there was the invention of the printing press. Monks no longer toil on illuminated texts for a select few.  Manual typewriters have a certain aesthetic appeal but quite frankly I was happy to throw out the rolls of correction tape.

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.  ~ Popular Mechanics, 1949

There are those for whom the world was a much better place when we read “real” books, wrote in longhand, and used manual typewriters. There’s a wistful longing for a slower paced, more genteel life.  And while I sympathize, I can’t help but feel that these people are missing a richness of experience that’s just a click away.

Television won’t matter in your lifetime or mine. ~ 1936, Richard Lambert, broadcaster

If you’re not running a small business, it probably doesn’t matter if you’re digitally savvy. But if you want to create a successful personal history business,  you’ve got to stick more than your big toe into the digital stream. This doesn’t mean you have to be sucked under and drown.  But it does mean that you need to be familiar with what’s out there to be able to pick and choose the digital tools that’ll help your business.  Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the wealth of resources that are available will hurt your business.

Here are a few digital resources worth considering. What would you add to this list?

  • E-books:  add a whole innovative and interactive realm to life stories with text, videos, photos, maps, documents, and more. Read more here and here.
  • Webinars:  increase marketing reach using such services as GoToWebinar.
  • Blogging: build conversations and credibility with clients using a free service such as WordPress or Blogger.
  • VoIP: extend interviewing reach world wide with a service such as Skype .
  • Podcasting: reach a wider audience with information and support using such services as BlogTalkRadio.
  • Booklets: turn a PDF file into a handy information booklet using BookletCreator.
  • POD: print a sample copy of a book using a print-on-demand service such as Blurb.
  • QR Codes: print these codes on your business cards and send clients to a URL site where they can access more information about your services, get discount coupons, access video, and more. You can create a QR Code here.
  • Project management: find a list of 10 free project Management applications here.

Photo by wecand

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From the Archives: 14 Questions to Help You Build a Better Business.

14 Questions to Help You Build a Better Business. I find the end of the year a good time to take stock of  my personal history business.  I set aside a day and look at my successes and the things that didn’t work.  I make a point of  writing this all down. It’s an important exercise that holds me accountable and keeps me growing as a professional. Why not take some time and do your own year-end review? A word of caution. Don’t beat yourself up for perceived failures but at the same time don’t  … Read More

From The Archives: How to Make Your Life Story Workshop Memorable.

How to Make Your Life Story Workshop Memorable. I always use some short, entertaining exercises to help break the ice and add a little fun and variety to my life story workshops. If you’re looking for something, consider some of those on my list. Please let me know in the comments below if you have some other exercises you’ve used and would like to share . The six-word memoir. Made popular by Smith Magazine, the idea is to have participants use six-words to capture their life stories. I usually… Read More

From The Archives: Do You Want to Make Your Printed Pages Look Better?

Do You Want to Make Your Printed Pages Look Better? In a previous post 4 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a Book Designer I extolled the benefits of good book design. I noted that for professional personal historians, hiring  a designer as part of the team was critical for long term success. For those of you who have some  good visual sense or can’t at the moment afford a book designer, this post is for you. Here’s a list of resources for the DIY book designer. Sites The Book Designer. “To help publis … Read More


From The Archives: Can Life Stories Benefit Those With Alzheimer’s?

Can Life Stories Benefit Those With Alzheimer's? Some years ago, when I was a filmmaker, I did a documentary on family caregivers. The show dealt with five caregivers, two of whom were struggling to look after a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. I had a close-up look at the challenges it inflicts on patient and caregiver alike. Since I became a personal historian five years ago, I felt that there was therapeutic value in recording the life stories of those with Alzheimer’s. Soon after st … Read More

From The Archives: How to Interview Someone with Dementia.

How to Interview Someone with Dementia. Over the years I’ve  interviewed individuals with dementia brought about by Alzheimer’s or small cerebral strokes. What I’ve learned I felt might be of value to those of you facing a similar challenge of interviewing someone with dementia. Keep in mind that in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s it is virtually impossible to conduct an interview. Here then are my suggestions: Be flexible with your interview schedule. Your interviewee might have days w … Read More

From The Archives: 7 Key Questions to Ask Before Transferring Your Video Tapes to DVD.

7 Key Questions to Ask Before Transferring Your Video Tapes to DVD. In a previous post I talked about the importance of protecting your family media treasures. I stressed the need to transfer your films and video tapes to a digital format. You can do this yourself if you have the equipment but if you don’t, there are numerous service providers who can help you. The problem arises when you try to decide how to choose the right company. Should you go with a local company or a large national chain? Does a more expens … Read More

via Dan Curtis ~ Professional Personal Historian

From The Archives: My Top 10 Picks for Royalty Free Photo Sites.

My Top 10 Picks for Royalty Free Photo Sites. I use royalty free images a lot in my work. My two favorite sources are  iStockphoto and Flickr Creative Commons.  I like iStockphoto because of the quality and variety of their images. I appreciate  the ease of using the site and the moderate cost. Flickr Creative Commons is a wellspring of member photos. There is no charge for the images and limited restrictions on their use. I highly recommend both. If you’re a braver person than I am, you mig … Read More