Several years ago I became a devotee of all things Google, especially after discovering Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcast series called Genealogy Gems. She has helped unleash the power of this giant search engine and explained it in a clear way.
For example, she demonstrates how Google Earth, Google News Archive, Timelines, Google Alerts, and Google Books can all be one more tool in the genealogy arsenal to help explore our family research. She has done all of us a huge favor by her podcasts and publications.
Now entering the room is a new release called Google+. I’ve watched a webinar, sponsored by Legacy Family Tree, called Google+: The Next Big Thing. Paul Allen (founder of FamilyLink.com and Ancestry.com), Dan Lynch (author of Google Your Family Tree) and Mark Oleson (creator of the longest-running Hangout on Google+), explained and demonstrated how to set up an account and use this new tool. They discussed Circles, Streams, Sparks and Hangouts, not exactly new words to my vocabulary but at least a new way to use old words!
As demonstrated in this webinar, a Hangout could be used for a virtual meeting. This would be facilitated by Google+ and even a genealogy society monthly meeting might be held this way.
While this idea has much potential, my immediate thought was, of course, that comradery of talking and socializing with fellow genealogists would somehow be lacking. Besides, our local group usual retires to a favorite restaurant following our meetings where we socialize a bit and enjoy a piece of pie or other “brain food.” (Yes, I think desserts eaten with friends are both healthy and important.)
So, while Google+ Hangouts holds lots of exciting possibilities, I do not foresee it replacing our local genealogy meetings on a regular basis. After all, socializing with fellow genealogists is a almost a sacrosanct ritual, not one to be changed lightly!