As memories stay online, social companies like Facebook must find better ways to help grieving families

Gigaom

A Missouri man posted a video on YouTube(s goog) this week, asking “Mr. Zuckerberg” to pass on his late son’s Look Back video, a short movie montage that Facebook(s fb) recently gave to all its users. The man described his plea, which came two years after his 21-year-old son’s death, as a long shot — but it worked.

The YouTube video received more than 1 million views after it received attention on sites like Reddit and BuzzFeed, and Facebook soon responded:

FB screenshot

In response to an email inquiry, Facebook confirmed the man’s story but could provide few additional details. A spokesperson wrote:

With the number of people using our service, it’s often very difficult to act on behalf of one. But John’s story and emotion moved us to take action — so we did. This experience reinforced to us that there’s more Facebook can do to help people celebrate and commemorate…

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Tracing our History: Working on the Family Tree

I have been working on the family tree tonight and making some good progress. One of the things I’ve noticed as I work on the tree is just how many children have died so young, particularly a century or more ago. Some times there have been 3 and 4 deaths in a family of a child under the age of one. So very sad. It must have been very hard for families back then and especially the mothers – really feeling for them as research the tree.

Break is Over … Now Back to Work

I have always found with genealogy that it is hard to stay on mission as it were. Every so often I just seem to have this need to take a break from it all and then find it difficult to get started again. This is where I have been over the last few months.

Once I get started again, all moves along well for a time – usually 12-18 months, before I need to take another break – which will end up going for about 6 months and then the cycle begins again.

I now have a desire to get back into the work and to make some changes to the way I do genealogy. These are changes that have gradually been worked out in my mind (during my break and before it) and I now feel it time to implement. These are changes that I hope will prove far better in the long run for all concerned.

So what are these changes going to involve:

  • I hope to put the family tree itself (and the book on our family history) behind the secure walls of a password protected web-based genealogical application. This will allow the information contained therein to be more private and secure.

  • I also hope, by placing the family tree into a web-based genealogical application, to open up the possibility of increased interaction between relatives that barely (if ever) see each other and to allow a process of collaboration on our family history – after all, it is not just my family history that I am seeking to preserve.

  • I am also hoping that by doing the above, our family history will ‘be owned’ by many more individual members of our family than it currently is. There are just so many ways that we can work together to preserve our family history for our own families and for generations to come. I don’t think family history preservation should be left at a family tree, a book and some photos – it can also include documents, individual stories, local history, etc. All these things can come together and complete our family history, making it more meaningful for those who are yet to come.

  • I am hoping to further develop the Grou.ps community that I have already established, and also to eliminate the old Yahoo mail groups that I once used in conjunction with the website.

  • I would also like to get a family history newsletter for our family going again.

These are just some of the things I’m keen to get working on.