My family is getting ready to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. We decided to create a “memory book” in which we’d collect family photos, stories, family recipes. At the end of this process she’ll end up with:
- a printed book of photos and images, courtesy of Shutterfly (or equivalent service)
- a printed booklet of stories and recipes
- perhaps a photo collage that she can hang on her wall
- a DVD with an edited set of family movies plus other motion graphics (thanks to her creative grandson Kevin)
All these materials will be ammunition for her “bragging rights” — a favorite activity for grandmothers these days. Show-and-tell has become an important ritual for today’s senior citizens. Digitally-enabled sharing and media production certainly make things easier for the contributors, although not necessarily as effective for the intended recipient. The trick is to figure out how to bridge the gap.
How We’re Sharing
The process to collect all these materials is more complicated than it might seem because my mother has 7 children, plus a computer-savvy husband (83 and an active blogger). All of us are actively contributing to Mom’s memory book. We live in 5 states and are scattered across 3 time zones. Relying on email with attachments as the principal means of sharing our contributions became too chaotic, way too quickly. (Needless to say, we have no common mail server.)
So I set up a project site on Basecamp, figuring it was so easy that I wouldn’t have to invest too much time helping my brothers and sisters master its UI. (That turned out to be a bit optimistic, although most of them have figured it out by now.) This site is serving as the central repository for the stories, recipes, photos, movies and so on. The selected content will eventually be downloaded by the “editors” responsible for the photo book and other tangible outputs.
In the meantime we’re all having a blast posting stories, editorializing and critiquing each other’s contributions, correcting details, uploading photos, etc. The granddaughter who has a college degree in digital media production is watching over our shoulders, chiming in from time to time. (She’s probably wondering why we didn’t choose Facebook. Answer: the gap referred to above.)
As my sister wrote earlier today,
This is getting to be addictive.…..looking at this site and posting pictures! What fun!
I can tell that everyone is logging onto the site every day, and in some cases, multiple times a day. Real proof that there’s a lot of joy in sharing this way.
Once we’ve delivered the books and things to her, we’ll give Mom access to the site, so she can share the memories and relish all the juicy commentary and stories. But for now, we don’t want to spoil her surprise.