Memes & Things

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

This jester was listening to NPR this morning on the way to the market. The show on “Speaking of Faith”: http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2010/alzheimers/

Spoke of the subject’s need to capture Alzheimers patient’s memories before they were gone. A tragedy that tugs at my Slavic soul. My aunt/God Mother Kitty suffered and died from Alzheimers, as did my younger brother’s, father-in-law. An awful fate, the loss of your memories. Now this jester has had many talks with his elders, some of whom were in their eighties and nineties. Another aunt died before she could capture her memories of my Busia. I had encouraged Aunt Bernice for years to write and to send me her drafts for me to edit for her. Alas it never happened and they were lost.

So this show tugged at my genealogical mind. I am sure all genealogists mourn the loss of valuable document or artifacts of their family’s history. I just want to encourage genealogist to do a few things:

  • Capture the memories of your elders onto the page (or the computer)
  • Backup your research; a backup copy onsite and another copy offsite.
  • Write your Family History and publish it (to book would be best, but to the Internet at least, both is best).

In many ways we are recording the dying memories of our family, the same as NPR’s guest. The entropy of time acts as Alzheimers to each of our genealogies. We must work swiftly and surely to record the memories before they are lost. Feel free to edit and revise your “final work” to incorporate the latest research until you too can no longer do the work.

Our history and our blogs are memes that function in much the same way as DNA does for life. We try to preserve biological diversity of animals or food crops by saving these “scraps” for a future so they will not be lost and can be enjoyed by the future. Does anyone backup the Internet? Are we just heading for another Library of Alexandria catastrophe? Write books on your family history; The books will last 500 years; The Internet or your computer media will not last anywhere near that long. Food for thought!

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