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:
What started out as a follow-up comment to that left by Michael Hait on the post, Confusion with the Various Definitions of Original Source, got too long for a comment and has turned into this post.
Thank you for contributing to the conversation. Any discussion of sources and their classification as original or derivative is not complete without discussing source provenance. When we trace the incarnations of a source all the way back to the original, we are able to do two things: 1) answer the question “Is there a better source?” and 2) determine independent origin.
Let us take the example of an original census that was microfilmed and then digitized. We are looking at the digital copy and we determine that the image is dark and hard to read in certain areas. We ask ourselves if there is a better source and determine that the problem was likely with the microfilm so if a better source exists it would have to be the original. Let’s say that we are able to consult the original and we can read the problem areas. In this case, the original was the better source.
What is the real definition of original source? Four authoritative references, four answers. Depending on which reference consulted, you will get a different answer as to what criteria is used to determine if a source is original.
Earlier today I posted the following to the APG list on RootsWeb:
There exists confusion in the current genealogy literature on the definition of an original source.
For this discussion I would like to focus only on the definition of original source and not derivatives, common derivatives (transcript, extract, abstract), or derivatives that can be treated as originals (image copy, record copy, or duplicate originals). I want to focus on the source – the container, the person, the paper, the stone, the object. Not the information contained in it (as much as possible) and its classification as primary or secondary. Also I don’t want to focus on how that information relates to the research question (i.e. the evidence and whether it is direct, indirect, or negative).
The 4 main sources that genealogists can turn to for a definition of original source are: Evidence! (1997), The BCG Standards Manual (2000), Professional Genealogy (2001), and Evidence Explained (2007). But using these sources can be contradictory and confusing. Is this due to the refinement of the definition over the years?
Let’s look at some specifics.
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.
This next award is long overdue. The second winner of the ThinkGenealogy Innovator award is Legacy Family Tree version 7. When the innovator award is presented for software innovation, it is for a specific feature. The innovative feature that is being recognized today is Legacy 7′s source citation templates following Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace.
Previous versions of Legacy allowed for source citations, but not anywhere near this level. So this improved citaion feature can be considered an incremental innovation. Evidence Explained (or EE ) is 885 pages and contains around a thousand citation models for U.S. and international documents. Just reading the book is an accomplishment in itself but then translating that into software? Amazing!
As 2008 closes, we stop to ponder what awaits genealogy in 2009. In coming up with this list, I have no insider information. I simply looked at the information publically available and tried to determine what is possible or likely for the upcoming year.
So here is my list of 9 genealogy predictions for 2009: