Denise Barrett Olson, blogger, writer, scrapbooker, and editor of The Moultrie Creek Gazette, recently released The Future of Memories: A digital publishing primer for the family historian. Anyone who has sung the "I'll publish the family history some day" blues should read this book; it makes some day feel a lot like today.
Denise has established a solid reputation as a tech-savvy writer at her several Moultrie Creek blogs, and I always learn something new from her software reviews, technique tutorials, and Research Notes. But what I enjoy most about Denise's blogs is seeing how she puts her tech know-how to work with her own family history projects. The Future of Memories is such a project.
From scrapbook-style photo layouts to video slideshows to Blurb Books, Denise offers her own digital publishing projects as examples for the services and techniques showcased in The Future of Memories. This is a unique feature of digital publishing unheard of in the world of print books. Read the Barrett family's story of a toy boat regatta, learn how Denise organized and assembled photos to build a photo slideshow and create a movie, and finally, click a link to watch the 4-minute "Caroline Cup Regatta". That's something you just can't do with paper and ink.
Denise is a big fan of Flickr, the photo-sharing website. I admit, I just can't find my way around it; every time I try to set up a group or photo share I end up creating a photostream of the wrong pictures with a really wrong name. I wish I had read Denise's step-by-step instructions first. I like her idea of using a Flickr group for events, like a wedding, as a way to collect photos from several people to build a photo book later.
Cemetery researchers will also be delighted to read "The LIving Book of the Dead," detailing how digital publishing tools are being used to develop a guide for the Huguenot Cemetery in St. Augustine, Florida. Digital publication allows a "living document," one that can grow and expand as new research comes to light.
Many eBooks are a horrible visual experience because the author/publisher fails to consider the vast difference between reading print pages and onscreen images. Happily, Denise Olson knows what she is doing and The Future of Memories is a pleasure to read onscreen. She has taken great care selecting appropriate fonts and designing a clean, crisp layout, and then presents the same design tips for the reader to follow.
The attractive layout is designed in a horizontal page well-suited for the computer monitor and iPad. Each page can be easily read without scrolling. The type is a simple sans serif font well-suited for screen viewing. Use of color and graphics is attractive without being distracting. Generous white space makes each page comfortable to read.
Denise's writing style is clear, concise, and friendly; she is a gifted technical teacher who must like her readers! The hyperlinks work as expected, page navigation is intuitive and unobtrusive.
Overall organization is logical and easy-to-follow. I appreciated the Table of Contents, and didn't miss an Index (Spotlight Search is even better and easier), but I would have liked to use a link roundup at the end of the book. The author gives so many useful site recommendations that I had a little difficulty remembering names to search for them later. I would also like to see a few recommendations for useful photo editing tools, although this may be a topic for another book.
Anyone who has ever thought of publishing a family history, making a slideshow or movie of family photos, or reproducing a treasured family album will enjoy the ideas and expertise shared by Denise Barrett Olson in The Future of Memories. Highly recommended.
The Future of Memories: A digital publishing primer for the family historian 84-pages Available at The Moultrie Creek Gazette, delivered in PDF format from Scribd; $2.99.
Disclosure. I purchased my own copy of The Future of Memories and did not receive any form of compensation for this review.