As I look around my office I see dozens of family treasures ranging from portraits and other artwork to souvenirs of our travels to pieces of furniture. Every one of these pieces has an associated story. I know the stories to many – but not all – of these treasures because either I was there when one was acquired or someone else passed the story along with the piece.
And, just because they are in my possession doesn’t mean I’m the only person interested in them. I have siblings, cousins and friends who also have connections to many of these treasures. How can we all share these items – and the collected knowledge associated with them? By taking advantage of some very simple digital tools and a family-friendly blog platform, we can build a digital family treasure chest and post scanned or photographed copies of these treasured items in a controlled environment that’s only accessible to family and selected friends.
Since privacy and simplicity are the two primary requirements for any private family site, I’ve chosen Posterous Spaces as the platform for my treasure chest. Most of my family aren’t about to visit a family site on a regular basis and the concept of posting content to a web site is like expecting them to become proficient in Latin. Ain’t . . . gonna . . . happen. Most site members will receive site updates via email and can reply with their comments or send a fresh email message which Posterous Spaces will treat as a new “post”. The collective conversation is maintained online in the family’s Posterous space.
Posterous Spaces simplifies access management too. Only the site manager needs to have a password. Others are welcome to set up their profiles – and include passwords for access to the site itself. Everything else is managed by email address. Posts are only delivered to the addresses identified as members. The site manager adds members by entering their email address and defining whether they are members (can only view content) or contributors (can view, comment and submit).
To post content, contributors just send an email message to the site’s email address. The subject line of the message becomes the title and the content of the message is the body of the post. In the example above, the two photos were attached to the email message and Posterous automatically set up a gallery to display them. Video attachments will be embedded in the post and even document attachments are included as embedded Scribd documents.
Email recipients who wish to comment on a message/post can do that by hitting reply to the original email message. All members will receive a copy of the reply and it will be attached as a comment to the original post online.
There are several ways you can backup your site for archival purposes. The easiest is to create an email account for that purpose and include it in the site’s mailing list. Mac users can take advantage of the Posterous Backup Tool [Mac - $3.99].
Any blog platform can work as a home for your family’s digital treasure chest, but Posterous is so easy and flexible that it can generate comments from family members who wouldn’t think of commenting on “normal” blog sites. Take a look at Posterous and see if it has a place in your digital storytelling plan.