The days of sitting around the dining table telling stories about family history have gone. I had to find another way to communicate our ancestral history to my family. The answer turned out to be really simple; a blog. But not just an ordinary blog, one that became a form of social media.
Engaging teenagers in 2014:
Not an easy thing to do. You can send text messages, but that has many limitations, and group messaging not easy. The way we chose to do it was to use some free tools - Evernote, Postach.io, and Disqus are all needed to host the blog.
Postach.io gave us the ability to make a password protected blog - and this was the key. I made our Disqus comments private, and we had a closed system behind a password that we could use to communicate from any browser.
"Our blog only has a tiny audience, but they are the most important people in the world - my family."
I thought it would be hard to get people to check the blog every day. I offered a small prize each day for a competition winner. Winning the competition was easy, and mostly relied on being the first person to read the 'prize' post. It turned out that I didn't really need to do this, although it's been so much fun that we've kept the tradition going. The family check the blog of their own accord, in their own time. And if I don't publish enough, they tell me to hurry up!
Other members of the family have made posts about stuff they're doing.
The things we post about are varied. Even our dinner plans are posted. This stops people asking "What's for dinner?" every night. We ask for jobs to be done, and we get no moaning about it. Everyone recognises that they're a part of a bigger picture, and the job they do is important. They can see that by looking at the post. They do their jobs without any protest. This is rather amazing!
We post about current events, and projects, and a million and one other things that families need to communicate. Politics, hobbies, pictures. Planned outings are a success. But the most important part to me is the family history. I do a regular post called 'Stories from Dad', in which I'll relate a part of our family history and how it relates to us now. I've had good feedback in the comments.
This recording of family history is an important part of our blog. I know that even after I'm dead and buried, the family blog can live on. The family history I'm writing now will not be forgotten. And with this family history, the kids have a chance to ask questions and have the answers recorded for all time. Maybe the history won't be lost.
We have opened up a radical new way to communicate as a family, but it's really working. I've moved away from Facebook, because it's not private. The postash.io platform is a closed loop behind a password. Only people with the password can read the blog.
I think some of my work in my family blog is my best work of all. I've had enormous satisfaction doing it. I am more motivated than ever to engage my audience and give them a reason to keep reading the blog. This doesn't appear to be very hard, but they deserve my best work.
27th June 2014