We humans are social creatures and the family is where we pick up all the important stuff about behaving in society. Family History is not a footnote in world and national history or social history. It is the motion and barometer of the most important events and trends that affect societies and continents. And it’s not just the Khans, Columbuses, and Kennedys that have an influence in history. Like the butterfly in China that affects a hurricane in Florida, the significant movements of each family have the potential to affect the directions of movements in society.Increases in the overall population dilute the impact of individuals and their families. But population growth notwithstanding, individual and family influence is still significant, and is magnified by both mass media and social media.
The magnification of the mass media is obvious: when ten million TV viewers see an activist explaining the potential harmful impacts of a chemical, attitudes can change, consumer behaviors can change, manufacturing and raw materials companies’ fortunes can rise or fall overnight. The fact that this activist’s education and interests in consumer protection were prompted during her childhood as the result of her parents’ or grandparents’ influence is important from a family history perspective, but historically, it is the activist who will be remembered.
Family History is Social History
The impact of social media is more discreet than parental influence, but it is infinitely more quantifiable. This is because all the interactions on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can be captured, and, to some extent, can be analyzed. Because the currents and eddies in social media are more complex than those in a river going through rapids and waterfalls, the technologies needed to make sense of them are complex and have to be able to handle a huge amount of data.
I’ll talk more about the technologies for following trends through social media in a later post. The point I wanted to make today is that family history is an important component of world history. So as we are designing Long Lost Cousin: the Game, we are binding together as much historical data as possible so people can look at what was happening at the time of our ancestors’ lives. The
specific parts of the game are called “Contemporary Events” and “History Quiz”, both of which will be tied to specific people in the family tree, their place in history and their locations in the world.
Yes, this is fun and interesting. More importantly, this is educational. The young person who can see that their great-great grandparents lived in Russia during the Bolschevik Revolution is going to pay closer attention to the story and may even care.The potato famine, the Maoist Cultural Revolution, the Apartheid period, the Battle of Bull Run, the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin… all of these become more real when we know of someone who was there or nearby.
Events in history are real, and the people who participated in them may be related to you. Long Lost Cousin will work hard to make the associations that will add sanguine interest to historical events that could otherwise be remote or unapproachable, and do so in the heart of the sociosphere.