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The Digital Yearbook

By Sarah Klein

I always feel fondly about the month of June. Even though it’s been a few years since I used to count down the days until school was out, it always brings back a hint of how that excitement used to feel. Summer is just around the corner; you can smell it on dewy mornings and feel it on the warm breeze.

Wrapped up in that anticipation of summer was always a slew of fun end-of-school-year events. For some, a prom. For others, a graduation. For many, that staple of high school life: the yearbook.

But like virtually everything else—from newspapers and magazines to movie tickets and greeting cards—the yearbook in print is becoming less and less relevant. With the help of social networking sites like Facebook, it’s easier than ever for recent grads—and everyone else—to stay in touch, to look at pictures of a former flame, or to see, 10 years later, who got married, who got a fabulous makeover…or who put on a few pounds!

So how does the yearbook stay relevant in the Facebook age? By going digital, of course!

The idea of a digital yearbook is not new; my very own high school attempted to create a CD-ROM supplement back in 2004. Today, a simple Google search for “digital yearbook” yields thousands of results; everything from instructions on how to create your own book to software that can help you add a professional-looking design.

But this year, the Internet was abuzz about Colgate University taking the digital yearbook one step further with its Class of 2010 Interactive Google Map.

The map pinpoints the locations of nearly 200 of this year’s crop of graduating seniors. Each student’s pop-up entry displays their hometown, chosen field of study at Colgate, and where they are and what they are doing now, whether it’s working, attending graduate school, or “pursuing options” as some so optimistically put it.

Many students have chosen to include a picture and eight have also posted brief video profiles in which they discuss their post-graduation plans.

While the map made headlines this year, Colgate’s Director of Web Content, Tim O’Keefe, told the U.S. News & World Report that they have actually been creating these digital yearbooks since 2008. The program is optional—no-one is forced to publically display their information—and the students are able to update their profiles whenever they want. So far, it’s been a success.

“We really hope it’s another way to extend ourselves in the Colgate community and stay in touch with our graduates,” O’Keefe said.

Comment by John McClane, posted 9/9/2011, 12:50 AM:

Hello Sarah, What are your thoughts regarding MyYearbookBuilder, from Odyssey Interactive? It is the only free digital yearbook publishing system available. Thanks, John
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