Friday, October 9, 2009

Video Biographies: 'You need to find someone with a big ego...'

... That's how my recent business meeting with two elderly (and very helpful, might I add) gentlemen in Austin ended. After half-an-hour's worth of talking about the Video Biography business and the need to preserve family history, if that's what someone takes away from it, why then, I'm in trouble!

The distress must have shown in my half-frozen smile. After a few seconds of silence that stretched themselves very thin, I cleared my throat awkwardly and asked the gentleman if he really thought recording life stories was a vain enterprise. What followed was a lively conversation and a few retractments - 'he hadn't quite meant it that way' - but it was interesting to come face-to-face with such a school of thought where sharing one's life experiences and memories could be perceived as a sign of vanity... a egotistic person's indulgence.

I didn't try to 'convert' him - and to his credit, he didn't try to convert me either. But I have a few questions and I'd like to pose them to you, O discerning reader, who might have more wisdom and sensibility than me in many areas!

1). Have you / Do you plan to take any steps to document your life stories and experiences for posterity?

2). Or would you rather leave it to the genealogical zeal of future generations to dig up whatever they are able to from census records, and community archives and government files?

3). Would you attempt to capture the essence of your life in your own voice, in your own way... whether it's a Video Biography, or an oral recording or even written memoirs? And would you encourage those who are important to you to do the same?

4). Or would you rather someone else fill in the blanks with whatever little (or much) they are able to scavenge about you years from now?

5). Is there really vanity involved in trying to create a record of your life for future generations... to help them better understand their collective journey thus far? To help provide roots in the past and an understanding for the future?

6). Would you really much rather hope someone 'gifted' you the opportunity to create a Video Biography - instead of actively getting it done yourself?

I realize this blog post is more a list of questions but I would be happy to hear your answers - either through the comments section on this blog or we could communicate via email. You can reach me at

Because isn't this what it's really about... creating a lively discussion about life? And what we have learned from it.


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