Why Blogs Matter

I admit it, I’m spoiled. I’ve been reading news feeds in one form or another for more than 10 years now. Starting with a customized My Yahoo! page and moving on to newsreader platforms like Bloglines, Google Reader and now feedly, I’ve been able to follow my choice of authors and news sources covering an eclectic range of topics that I find interesting.

The big news organizations have created gorgeous news and magazine apps, but I’m not interested in the latest misadventures of some spoiled celebrity nor am I a big sports fan. The topics I find interesting are often things the media ignores. As a result I have turned to blogs for a lot of my news. Through blogs, I got war news from the Soldiers who are fighting it, how-to instructions from the developers who created the app and research tips from experts in their field. I also get local news that even my local paper doesn’t print. Few of the people I follow would be considered “objective” reporters. Instead, they have a passion for their causes.

Until the iPad came along, my biggest concern was the ability to “process” a large number of news items quickly to find and read the interesting articles. Now I combine Twitter, tumblr and feedly with apps like Flipboard to create a delightful reading experience that’s always ready for me when my schedule allows me to relax and enjoy some pleasure reading.

What I get out of all this is an informative and interesting reading experience customized just for me. Why? Because of a simple and inexpensive online writing platform called a blog.

Blogs are so easy to use that anyone can be up and running in a matter of minutes. There’s little to learn so writers can focus on their story and not how to build it. Yes, learning a few blog basics will improve the look and feel of an article, but even those lessons are quickly learned. As a result, the story tellers can tell their stories, the knowledge experts can share their expertise and the newsmakers can keep us updated in real time.

The next best thing about blogs is their construction. Blogs are designed to travel.


Blog platforms were built with syndication – as in RSS – in mind. This means anyone can subscribe to any blog using their news-reading platform of choice and each time a new article is published, it is automatically delivered to that reader.

Using newsreader platforms like feedly and the WordPress app, I can organize and manage any number of subscriptions to create a customized reading experience that matches my interests. And, like I said earlier, a whole new collection of devices and applications are now making my reading experience as beautiful as it is informative.

It’s not just readers finding blogs either. Search engines and news aggregators are finding them too. Once again, the structure of the blog platform makes them very search-friendly and when authors add keyword tags to their posts it increases their visibility even more. This gives unknown writers opportunities they might never have otherwise. Family historians have found blogging is a great way to attract cousins. With blogs and news reading apps, there aren’t any gatekeepers limiting access to content. The reader now makes that choice.

The information junkie in me is lovin’ every minute of it!

Reprinted with permission from Moultrie Creek Gazette.

Finding Inspiration

The WordPress Reader is a great way to discover how other people are documenting their family history. You’ll find a lot of them do it with WordPress! Why? Because blogs (especially WordPress blogs) have legs. They are very search-friendly and its easy to attract “research cousins” (relatives you’ve never met who are searching the same families you are) from all around the world.

Use your Reader to find other geneabloggers and see how they tell their stories. Here’s how . . .


Open the WordPress Reader and look down the left sidebar for the Tags section. You can enter any keyword into the Tag box and the Reader will search for blogs discussing that topic. Notice I have tags for “ancestry”, “Family History” and “genealogy”. Click on a tag and your Reader will display any posts matching that keyword. Notice the Follow icon at the top of each post. You can share, comment or like any of these posts without following them but if one of them looks particularly interesting, you may want to follow them so you will receive all their posts.

If a tag doesn’t generate any interesting posts or blogs, you can get rid of it by clicking the “X” icon next to it.

Tags are also a great way to keep up with an event or news item. For example, you can create a tag to collect posts discussing an upcoming event (NGS conference, for example) and then remove it once the event is over.

How does the Reader find posts associated with your tags? The WordPress editor includes a section where writers enter tags to describe their post’s topic. Often they include surnames, locations and other descriptive keywords hoping to snag a few research cousins.

It’s a win-win situation for all of us!

Getting Started with Feedly

This guide is an introduction to newsreaders and the Feedly news reading platform. The newsreader is a pleasant and efficient way to keep up with a large number of news sources. Learn how to get started with Feedly and find news sources that can help your research, writing and publishing efforts.

This guide can be read online or you can click the Download icon at the bottom of the reader window to download a PDF copy.