Genealogy & Web 2.0

Dick Eastman has a WONDERFUL post about the changes we are witnessing in the Internet and how it can apply to genealogy – the web 2.0 revolution. I personally have adopted a philosophy of transforming as much as possible to web-based platforms for the past couple of years and his post resonated deeply with me. On my main blog, I have previously posted my bias towards web 2.0, and on my genealogy blog, I’ve posted how I can see it having such a tremendous impact in this realm. Eastman’s post is much more in-depth now and I’m glad to read that it is being reflected in national venues. Wonderful post! Go read it!

Roots TV

Roots TV is just awesome! Today, after reading Megan’s post of the changes to the site, I decided to take a look again and see what new videos have been posted. There are several videos that I had not yet had the opportunity to view, including lectures from the AAHGS Conference this past October in Salt Lake City. Last month I saw notice of the 2007 conference that will be in Boston and I am going to try and attend, so this is neat to be able to see some of the lectures online.

The lecture that I watched was Beth Wilson’s talk on “Trails Back, Tracing Ancestors in Slavery through Census, Probate and Land Records”and it was very enjoyable. I have to say though, the librarian in me is well suited to genealogy, b/c throughout the lecture she was giving hips/tips/advice for proper methods of genealogy research, the importance of documentation, etc, which all come very natural to me. I was happy to see that I at least knew a little bit of what I was doing.

What I found most helpful about her presentation were her techniques for tracking slaves in records. As I am about to get into original county records for my own slave owner searching, I know have ideas for helping me trace people. One comment she made also had to do with the importance of sharing information with other genealogists. In her case, she had occasion to go through the records of Howard County, Missouri and realized she could help in providing access to others, so she’s transcribed and made databases of the information she’s gathered. This is exactly what I aim to do in my own genealogy research, hence the focus I have right now on newspapers. It is SO important to share.

I hope to be able to watch more videos throughout the rest of the weekend.

Ambitious Goal

Why am I plagued with huge, ambitious goals! It seems that for my hobbies, I tend to develop grand schemas for things I want to accomplish. With my stitching, it was to create a database of cross-stitch patterns that appear in magazines. I did start one, but now that my interests have varied, I find that I really just don’t have the time to dedicate to is as I used to. (well, that and having a 2 year old to run after!).

Now that I’m into genealogy, I am starting to develop grand ideas for this hobby as well. There are so many areas in which I see room for possible contributions that it just paralyzes me sometimes. For example, right now, I am into newspaper transcriptions. I currently have two actively going, and a third one that I have decided I will do, but just need to order additional microfilm. I have a fourth order for microfilm that should arrive to me within the next few weeks, and I’ll start a new transcription blog for that. I find my newspaper transcription to be slow going work, but that’s okay – I enjoy reading the history of the place and even in the short time I’ve been doing it, I find that it is already helping others.

But, just this weekend, I started envisioning another project – creating a community genealogy web site, set up in structure very similar to my own personal family history site. For example, Plymouth, Washington County, NC is where my maternal grandmother is from. I think it would be so cool to create a community genealogy site for the county – that would have gedcom’s and compilation of information from a variety of sources. But, this would be a tremendous undertaking! Of course there would be people who would want to contribute information but still, it would be a huge project. Wouldn’t it be ideal though to be able to get a broader sense of the community of a whole for an area in which you had roots? Genealogy 2.0 apps would be perfect for this.

Just me thinking…..

UPDATE: I think I may have found something for this. I just took a quick look at WeRelate, and I am already amazed by it! I didn’t talk about it in my previous post on technology apps, but I like it already and I see that it has much potential. I plan to spend the next few days testing it out. Stay tuned.

Online Genealogy Programs

Seems I have a lot to post about these days! Well, today I’ve been reading various posts on other genealogy blogs about online genealogy programs (Eastman has a post, Randy has a post, as does Jasia), so I thought I would contribute as well.

In January 2006, I found the best thing that ever happened to me for my genealogy hobby – Darrin Lythgoe’s web-based genealogy software, The Next Generation (TNG). For the past several months prior, I had been looking for the perfect program to host my genealogy information online. My personal philosophy to data management over the past couple of years has been to transition to web-based products as much as possible, so that I could reduce my dependency upon any one personal computer. Therefore, I was looking to do this with my genealogy data as well. TNG is a great program in my personal experience, and I use it for my own family tree (and I used RootsMagic to do reports, PDF files, etc.) It has so many features that I have found it hard to beat as far as my personal preferences go. The one thing that I would say is lacking is a calendar view to the dates in my files that could be sent to me automatically via email like Google Calendar does. Other than that, I could hardly ask for more!

Other programs I have looked into are:

Tribal Pages – I did actually create a site, but I felt the views to the trees were limited as not enough information could be displayed about an individual. I was looking for something that would allow me to link in documents, photos, and more and TNG provides that.

With the recent announcement of PHPGedView, I looked at it briefly, but honestly have not taken the time to truly investigate it. PHPGedView does have a calendar view to dates like I only wish TNG had. However, at this point, I don’t feel the need to switch, so I’m not likely to investigate it further.

Geni - I looked at this briefly too. I did not like the approach of having to enter data individually and that it was a “private” community. I like open access as much as possible, with restrictions on living individuals. While that may appeal to some, it does not appeal to me. Mabye b/c I’m a librarian :-)

Ancestry Family Tree – I love Ancestry Trees! However, there are features that I wish it had, but for the mere fact that Ancestry is one of the MAJOR resources for genealogy, and that the data entered into the Family Tree becomes searcheable in both Ancestry and RootsWeb within a matter of days, this is an ideal option for other varied genealogies I work on. For example, I use Ancestry Family Trees for the tree of a co-worker of mine so that she too can log in and edit and work on the tree; for my step-mother’s sister-in-law’s tree, for the tree of someone whom I suspect may be the slaveowner of one of my ancestors, and for a couple of African-American former slaves that I’ve come across in my transcription work – I do this to help increase the chances that someone from any of these lines may find the information I’ve posted to it.

Another aspect that I’d like to mention are applications on the horizon in light of the Web 2.0 movement. Ben Crowder, a BYU student, has conceptualized a program he names Beyond. His ideas excite me and though he is a student and busy and may not get to develop this “soon”, I hope that he does continue to work on it and hopefully produce it one day. What excites me about his approach is that he is very well-tuned to the concepts of Web 2.0 and collaboration technologies and he hopes to build these into his program, while at the same time keeping it clean and simple. Also, he’s considering the idea of linking individuals with non-familial relationships (friend, co-worker, slave-owner, etc) – wouldn’t that be cool! Talk about community genealogy! Check him out.

A New Printer

Yeah! I got a new all-in-one printer this past week. I can now finally scan all my documents that I send away for, so I have been busy doing that these past few days. My other printer developed a short in the power cord, so I’ve been without a scanner/printer for months. Do you know how annoying it is to photograph a document and then turn it into a PDF file? So tedious.

I also this week updated the software for the web program, The Next Generation, that I use for my genealogy site. I love TNG! Once I found this gem last year and started using it, I have been hooked to doing my genealogy as it is very user friendly.

In other news, I was reading my normal blogs and found my name over on The Genealogue! Thanks Chris for the mention of my newspaper transcription blogs. I hope to only do more.