Back in April 2009, I created a video that showed my dream for how citing online sources should be done (see blog post). It would be a partnership between online record repositories and desktop genealogy software. I created a prototype close enough to the real thing to prove that it could be done and to help others visualize how it would work. I even created a survey to get feedback from others.
Over 300 people responded to the survey and at the end of the trial period I sent a copy of the results to all participants that provided an e-mail. I planned on blogging about the results but got discouraged at the time.
Two events have happened this week to get me thinking about this again. The first was a comment on my blog by Bruce. He has a website for his personal family history and wanted to know how to go about setting up the site to do citations like the video demonstrated. It saddened me to tell him that it is not possible to do this yet without cooperation from the desktop genealogy software vendors. The second was a direct message via Twitter from fellow genealogy software innovator, Dean. He contacted me to say that my blog was mentioned in a discussion today at RootsTech on how to handle sources.
Maybe it is time for me to publish the survey results from 2 years ago.
What type of people responded to the survey? People like you and me. The majority are non-professional researches (plain Jane/Joe family historians) many of whom belong to local genealogy societies. Some have visited courthouses, the National Archives, or the Family History Library, but almost all had done research on the internet in the last week. They used sites like Ancestry, Footnote, and FamilySearch and desktop software like RootsMagic, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, and PAF. Over 99% thought citing sources was important but 75% thought it was difficult to do it. Over 90% thought that there should be one standard citation guide and 57% were using “Evidence Explained.” When asked if they were interested in the solution provided in the video, 93% said they were interested.
There are more details and nuggets in the survey results.
Maybe we can explore them more in future posts.
I’ve been immersed in technology for so long, that sometimes I forget that not everyone has a high-speed internet connection. Thanks A A Bowen for reminding me of that. Below you will find the text of the video, A Better Way to Cite Online Sources, in script form. Before I recorded the video of the PowerPoint and demo using Camtasia Studio 6, I wrote a script to get my thoughts together and try to be more concise. The text is likely not 100% of what was said on the video, but it is close. That is why I am calling it a script instead of a transcript.
Between the script and the detailed description of the demo, you should be in a good position to answer the survey questions without the need to see the video.
In Episode 64 of the Genealogy Gems podcast, Lisa calls online downloadable source citations a “Gem of an Idea!”
She explains the issues clearly and interviews genealogy blogger, Stephen Danko to get his opinion. Lisa also gives the outcome of her interview requests with Ancestry and World Vital Records.
I was excited to hear the interview with Stephen as I have been an admirer of his work for years ever since the Genealogy Guys first mentioned him on their podcast. Stephen’s genealogy blog is in actuality an online research log where he posts document images, transcriptions and translations from his research. Like all genealogists should do, he cites all sources following Evidence Explained. In fact, I had his website in mind when I created the sample site used in the video. For many months, whenever I visited his blog I would imagine a Download link next to each of his source citations. Stephen is somebody I would love to meet. Maybe NGS 2010 in SLC?
Lisa, thanks for getting the word out. This is truly a grassroots effort and I cannot do it on my own. Keep spreading the word and contact the providers of the software and services you use.
There have been a number of comments from viewers of the video, “A Better Way to Cite Online Sources”, asking about how things work behind the scenes. Being a geek by nature, I tend to be technical in my writing and so I tried to stay away from too many details in the video. The main point was to show what a solution to the online citation problem might look like.
For those who want to know more, here are the details.
We will first start with the QuickCheck models found in Evidence Explained. These models can be used by software developers as a feature specification:
Phoenix, AZ – April 20, 2009. Every genealogist and family historian from beginner to professional will at some time confront the issue of source citations. Although great advances have been made in recent years to standardize and simplify citations, it is still too difficult. Today on ThinkGenealogy.com a video was released that proposes a better way to cite online sources.
This 7.5 minute video consists of two sections. The first section discusses some of the current issues with citing sources especially when it comes to online sources. The second section demonstrates an approach to quickly and accurately cite online sources. The technology needed to accomplish this exists today. The changes proposed by this video requires collaboration between various providers of genealogy software and services.
As a genealogy community, we have at times united to get our voices heard in such areas as records preservation & access, NARA fees, and other topics of key concern. You are invited to watch the video, provide feedback, and learn how we can work together to make citing online sources approachable to all researchers.
ThinkGenealogy.com is a blog created in July 2007 to discuss ideas and innovation in genealogy and genealogy software. It was recently recognized by ProGenealogists, Inc. as one of the 25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs for 2009. To learn more, visit: www.ThinkGenealogy.com
As part of revising my presentation, Navigating Research with the Genealogical Proof Standard, I decided to create a timeline of some key milestones in the development of current evidence and citation standards.