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Challenges To The Genealogist In The Digital Age

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  • vaqysrhuobyy
    For many years family historians have been associated with large notebooks of loose leaf paper. Notes scribbled down from library books, musty old photos, aged
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 29, 2010
      For many years family historians have been associated with large notebooks of loose leaf paper. Notes scribbled down from library books, musty old photos, aged looking papers and sometimes photocopies from original records. Our world has certainly changed in the last 20 years. Computerized databases to keep track of the family history have been a boost to the hobby of genealogy. After all, I don't know that I would be able to keep track of every name if I had to do it on paper alone.
      These new advances present a number of challenges. Technology, as we all know, has a tendency to eventually fail. Usually, it fails with no warning. Maybe a hard drive "dies" and claims 15 years of research in the process. With paper records it's certainly possible to lose all of it, but rarely does the paper simply disintegrate abruptly on it's own.
      Modern genealogists have the additional consideration of succession. What happens to my research when I pass on? Does it go to my children? Do they want it? Will it be chucked in an attic and forgotten, then burned like some useless rubbish? Is it organized enough to be of any use to anyone? I know some people leave their research to a library. I've seen some of the collections of research that libraries receive and at times it's little more than a stack of unorganized papers.
      Complicating the idea of data "succession" are file format problems. Life would be so much simpler if there were a single standard that we KNEW would always be readable as an image or as a genealogy database. I know the gedcom format is widely supported for genealogy data, but has it limitations and will new methods still allow reading the old files?
      I've thought many times that I will leave the request with my heirs that they convert and copy the data that I leave them into whatever the most compatible and survivable media of the time. However, as I said earlier much has changed in the last 20 years. Who knows what the next 20 will hold. In 1987 floppy disks of various sizes were common and cds were a rarity, but becoming more common for sharing data. What will 2027 have in store? Will our CDs even be readable? Been able to get data from a 5 1/2" floppy lately?
      There are certainly other pitfalls that face the genealogist of today, but I think these issues need as much attention as any. So how do you address it? First, I think the family historian needs to spend as much or more time organizing and preparing for someone else to receive their research as they spent doing the research in the first place. I know, organizing is NOT the fun part. The fun part is making those discoveries of "who was the father of brick wall ancestor number 7!!" But the fun part is worthless if you don't take the time to prepare the presentation of it for others. So, by all means get organized, use a computer to do so and make frequent backups. Preferably, send out copies of the work in progress on CD or DVD. Don't let that be the finished product though. Make it clear to them that this is your "in case of fire, break glass" backup policy and that you are in process of organizing things for easier consumption.
      Next methodically, go through each part of your family tree and decide on a routine for organizing the information and presenting it. Many genealogy programs present excellent reports these days which include images. The bottom line is try to make it look like a well researched book even if it's a book with a video clip or two, or with audio recordings. Consider making the video and audio recordings supplemental items and refer to them in the text, but prepare them separately. The bottom line is to go back through your research with a fine tooth comb organizing everything and attempt to clarify your doubts and suspicions from the facts that you know.
      Finally, prepare this document in a few different file formats. PDF is a very common file format these days and is accepted by many sites online for on demand publishing. Many of these sites require no money from you to just "publish" a book and have it available to buy a copy for yourself. Go about the same process to publish your supplementary materials like audios, videos and pictures. Also, make copies of the main document in plain text. (That's the format that Project Gutenberg has decided on as a least common denominator.) Find web pages that you can archive the information to and find family members that you can give a copy of the archive well before your passing so that you know your research will continue to be useful to your descendants and other distant relatives as of yet unborn for many years to come.

      Search Millions of Public Records: http://www.pubrecs.tk/
    • Douglas Pratt
      Thank you! E. Douglas Pratt, DSW, LCSW Policy-Practice Resources, Inc. Training, Development, Evaluation and Licensed Psychotherapist 3162 Johnson Ferry Road,
      Message 2 of 2 , May 1, 2010
        Thank you!



        E. Douglas Pratt, DSW, LCSW
        Policy-Practice Resources, Inc.
        Training, Development, Evaluation
        and Licensed Psychotherapist







        3162 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 260-426
        Marietta, Georgia 30062
        off: 770.998.0241
        cell: 770.714.9105
        fax: 270.721.9105
        <mailto:ppr_edp@...> ppr_edp@...



        _____

        From: BuffaloPolonia@yahoogroups.com [mailto:BuffaloPolonia@yahoogroups.com]
        On Behalf Of vaqysrhuobyy
        Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2010 6:12 PM
        To: BuffaloPolonia@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [BuffaloPolonia] Challenges To The Genealogist In The Digital Age





        For many years family historians have been associated with large notebooks
        of loose leaf paper. Notes scribbled down from library books, musty old
        photos, aged looking papers and sometimes photocopies from original records.
        Our world has certainly changed in the last 20 years. Computerized databases
        to keep track of the family history have been a boost to the hobby of
        genealogy. After all, I don't know that I would be able to keep track of
        every name if I had to do it on paper alone.
        These new advances present a number of challenges. Technology, as we all
        know, has a tendency to eventually fail. Usually, it fails with no warning.
        Maybe a hard drive "dies" and claims 15 years of research in the process.
        With paper records it's certainly possible to lose all of it, but rarely
        does the paper simply disintegrate abruptly on it's own.
        Modern genealogists have the additional consideration of succession. What
        happens to my research when I pass on? Does it go to my children? Do they
        want it? Will it be chucked in an attic and forgotten, then burned like some
        useless rubbish? Is it organized enough to be of any use to anyone? I know
        some people leave their research to a library. I've seen some of the
        collections of research that libraries receive and at times it's little more
        than a stack of unorganized papers.
        Complicating the idea of data "succession" are file format problems. Life
        would be so much simpler if there were a single standard that we KNEW would
        always be readable as an image or as a genealogy database. I know the gedcom
        format is widely supported for genealogy data, but has it limitations and
        will new methods still allow reading the old files?
        I've thought many times that I will leave the request with my heirs that
        they convert and copy the data that I leave them into whatever the most
        compatible and survivable media of the time. However, as I said earlier much
        has changed in the last 20 years. Who knows what the next 20 will hold. In
        1987 floppy disks of various sizes were common and cds were a rarity, but
        becoming more common for sharing data. What will 2027 have in store? Will
        our CDs even be readable? Been able to get data from a 5 1/2" floppy lately?
        There are certainly other pitfalls that face the genealogist of today, but I
        think these issues need as much attention as any. So how do you address it?
        First, I think the family historian needs to spend as much or more time
        organizing and preparing for someone else to receive their research as they
        spent doing the research in the first place. I know, organizing is NOT the
        fun part. The fun part is making those discoveries of "who was the father of
        brick wall ancestor number 7!!" But the fun part is worthless if you don't
        take the time to prepare the presentation of it for others. So, by all means
        get organized, use a computer to do so and make frequent backups.
        Preferably, send out copies of the work in progress on CD or DVD. Don't let
        that be the finished product though. Make it clear to them that this is your
        "in case of fire, break glass" backup policy and that you are in process of
        organizing things for easier consumption.
        Next methodically, go through each part of your family tree and decide on a
        routine for organizing the information and presenting it. Many genealogy
        programs present excellent reports these days which include images. The
        bottom line is try to make it look like a well researched book even if it's
        a book with a video clip or two, or with audio recordings. Consider making
        the video and audio recordings supplemental items and refer to them in the
        text, but prepare them separately. The bottom line is to go back through
        your research with a fine tooth comb organizing everything and attempt to
        clarify your doubts and suspicions from the facts that you know.
        Finally, prepare this document in a few different file formats. PDF is a
        very common file format these days and is accepted by many sites online for
        on demand publishing. Many of these sites require no money from you to just
        "publish" a book and have it available to buy a copy for yourself. Go about
        the same process to publish your supplementary materials like audios, videos
        and pictures. Also, make copies of the main document in plain text. (That's
        the format that Project Gutenberg has decided on as a least common
        denominator.) Find web pages that you can archive the information to and
        find family members that you can give a copy of the archive well before your
        passing so that you know your research will continue to be useful to your
        descendants and other distant relatives as of yet unborn for many years to
        come.

        Search Millions of Public Records: http://www.pubrecs
        <http://www.pubrecs.tk/> tk/





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