Twitter is a great way to get information on newly released genealogy records, connecting with genealogists all over the world, discovering new resources (who is digitizing records and making them available, who is creating new research facilities, who is holding conferences or workshops.). Twitter can be a valuable resource to genealogists of any calibre.
Here’s how you can get started:
First, you need to create an account. To do this, go to the Twitter website: http://twitter.com Here you will find the sign up box. You will be required to enter your full name, email address, and to create a password. Once done, hit the “sign up for twitter” button. Next, select a username. Choose something that is unique to you and that will make it easy for others to identify you. Mine is @genealogytours because my business arranges genealogy tours to Scotland. ALL Twitter usernames have the @ symbol at the beginning.
Finally, click the “create my account” button. Once you have done that, Twitter will send you a confirmation email. When you receive that, click on the link in the body of the e-mail to confirm your that you really did want to sign up. You will be re-directed to Twitter.
From here, you can begin to “follow” tweeters who might be of interest to you as you research your family history. You can do this in the search bar at the top of your homepage. Simply type in the things you are looking for “Scottish genealogy”, “England genealogy”, “Irish Genealogy”, “Welsh genealogy” etc. You can also look for people you think might be able to provide information that will be helpful to you as you research. Type in their names and a list will be generated. You do not need to know their Twitter user name for this part. Twitter will show them via their first names. Once you find who you are looking for, click on their user name, and once on their homepage, you can choose to “follow” them. This means that any tweets they issue will be automatically shown in your stream on your homepage. You can follow as many people as you want. If you are more interested in learning than in communicating, you don’t ever have to tweet. The real benefit of Twitter lies in being able to access real-time information that matters to you.
You can follow conversations by reading through your stream or by clicking on the “view conversation” link at the bottom of a tweet that has been replied to. If “view conversation” does not show, there is no conversation to follow. Like Facebook, you can upload pictures. On Twitter, they will show as a weblink. One picture is usually sufficient and unlike Facebook, pictures are used to punctuate a point, not to share the fun at the party you attended on the weekend.
One of the buzz words associated with Twitter and that is now starting to show up on Facebook is “hashtag” No, its not an illicit drug, but rather a way of tracking topics. If you use a hashtag (#) in front of an acronym or phrase, in the search bar, you can then follow all conversations to do with that topic. This is a nice way of weeding out other, less relevant information. This is particularly helpful if you want to follow along on “as it happens” events like the airing of new #WDYTYA episodes. It is also how news reporters are able to give up-to-the-second reports on such issues as the #bostonbomber or the #ohio kidnapping case.