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Talking to Curt Witcher, Allan County Public Library

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  • Olive Tree Genealogy
    Interview with Curt B. Witcher Genealogy Center Manager Allen County Public Library Lamar Tyler and I sat down with Curt B. Witcher a few minutes after his
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2011
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      Interview with Curt B. Witcher
      Genealogy Center Manager Allen County Public Library

      Lamar Tyler and I sat down with Curt B. Witcher a few minutes after his
      keynote speech at RootsTech. Curt was on fire during his keynote speech. He
      was animated and passionate and a joy to listen to. One of the points Mr.
      Witcher made was that genealogists should not be afraid to take the next
      step beyond gathering information. After gathering the information it is
      important to analyse it, study it, organize it and SHARE with others.

      Mr. Witcher was still on a dynamic roll when he sat down with us and it was
      obvious that he is passionately dedicated to the idea of technology making
      genealogists lives easier and making it easier for us to share what we have,
      or what we discover, with others.

      Lamar started the interview off by asking how we can show our readers that
      it isn�t necessarily a huge task to start one�s genealogy. Curt responded
      that there isn�t a better marriage for technology than genealogy because
      emerging technologies make it possible for researchers to search millions of
      records quickly. Researchers can text, post on Facebook, fill in blanks in
      their family trees and quickly and easily share that information with
      others. Others can then add their own information.

      He added that technology has taken genealogy from researchers seeking,
      seeking and seeking for long periods of time without finding anything, to
      seeking and finding quickly. With more success more quickly we can start to
      put our stories together to share.

      Curt feels that the boomers are the key � they expect things to happen
      quickly and fairly easily and they have vitality and excitement.

      I mentioned that there are two groups of genealogists who might want to
      share their stories or photos or documents. The first group are those who
      have personal items (photos, documents, letters etc). They have never
      thought about sharing these items with others. The second group are people
      like me who have larger collections that they have put online. But these
      collections are still quite small and scattered. I asked Mr. Wichter how we
      can encourage the first group to share their memories and how we can help
      the second group to expand so that more genealogists can access the

      Curt�s responded with the answer that he would like to see that dialogue
      initiated and continued between technologists and genealogists. He called
      small collections �walled gardens�, closed off for sharing easily with
      others. He has not yet found one good way to share more easily and that is
      why RootsTech was a great way to start the dialogue to try to find

      He noted that sometimes family members who inherit research or personal
      documents do not know what to do with it. Often they don�t want it and the
      privacy issues frighten some. But he believes passionately that it is
      powerful to know who you are and where you came from, and in fact it can be
      life-changing. He asked a rhetorical question which resonated for me

      *�What is it in the human pysche that connecting to family and ancestors
      makes you realize you are part of something bigger?�*

      Curt mentioned that Wikipedia is a good example of sharing and sourcing
      where people post articles and others quickly add to them or correct them.

      Lamar wanted to know how we can encourage young people to become interested
      in genealogy. Mr. Wichter pointed out that young people already know the
      technology part. They are tweeting, texting, and setting up Facebook pages
      already. So we have to show them they can do the same fun stuff with family
      history! We need to encourage them so they end up wanting to know more.

      I wanted to know about Seniors and how we can encourage that group when many
      are very frightened of technology. Curt suggested that a trusted
      organization or a trusted invidual needs to show them the way. Seniors can
      get confused on complex sites and they often worry about identity theft or
      privacy issues. So someone like a grandchild can help them overcome those

      Curt ended our interview by explaining that technology can add an extra
      layer to our relationships. Family history and sharing keeps memories alive.
      It takes a family � children, parents and grandparents, to share and
      communicate and that sharing is a powerful tool.

      For more background information on Mr. Witcher and his many involvements in
      the genealogy community, please see RootsTech Keynote

      Posted By Genealogy Blogger to Olive Tree Genealogy
      2/19/2011 08:21:00 AM

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