While checking in at Mashable recently to catch up on the latest social media trends, I came across their article about Google’s site created to help boomerparents (and older) learn how to deal with common tech issues called TeachParentsTech. Brilliant for the holidays as I’m the geek of the family and will be asked to take care of these niggling tasks that are still important and valuable.
This got me thinking about ways to use tech to connect with loved ones this holiday season. One idea is to bring a FlipCam or recorder and interview your parents. I did this with my grandfather about five months before he passed away and it’s an amazing gift to show my kids. He was a fairly quiet man by nature but a high school principal for more than 50 years so he had a wealth of incredible stories to tell. For instance—he remembered seeing Harriet Tubman drive by him in a carriage when he was a boy and still lived to see the introduction and dominance of the Internet.
Here’s a basic framework for a script when you interview a loved one (good to have some structure):
- Ask the person you’d like to record before you travel. Give him or her time to prepare.
- Tell your subject you’d like five to 10 top favorite stories. No need to rush through them, but if the stories are two minutes or so in length, you’ll get to keep memories from lingering…too long.
- Record solo interviews but also with grandkids, cousins, kids, etc. Watching reactions with kids means you’ll get warm smiles on film.
- Consider having your loved one’s friends over for a meal to record them interacting and sharing stories. Get a fuller picture of their life. (And probably some fun stories they didn’t tell you).
- EDIT. Go through and cut out the moments where a child screamed in the background or the phone rang. And add music.
- Most importantly—USE A TRIPOD. It’s 2010 and you’re not filming an episode of “Law & Order.” Put your camera or phone on a table or other flat surface so our focus is on your subject and his or her story versus your lack of experience standing still.
Some sites and resources to help you connect with older loved ones this season:
- Internet Radio. My dad grew up listening to shows like “The Lone Ranger” and “The Shadow” so the audio genre is something he’s comfortable with. A few years ago my brother and I interviewed my Dad for his birthday and played excerpts from old radio shows and had a number of friends and family call in..
- Qik allows you to share live video privately with family members or with friends from your mobile phone via social networks. Great way to do the live video thing if no one in your family has the latest iPhone! You can also interact with friends in real-time. Just make sure to tell everyone it’s live!
- Grandparents.com. Register and connect with other grandparents. You’ll see great blog posts and groups, a large community and terrific forums as well.