Have you ever been surprised and delighted by something that in hindsight was so obvious? That happened to me this last week.
A few weeks ago I received a plain old snail mail letter from a Carol Sweat in Utah. It turns out that she is my 2nd cousin and is planning a Bunce family reunion for the first weekend in July. My mother’s mother is a Bunce and every Christmas there is a small reunion for my grandmother, uncles, cousins and family. This is the first Bunce reunion that I have ever been invited to.
Too bad that I can’t attend the reunion this year as it conflicts with other plans that have already been made. But I wanted to do something to support the reunion, so I contacted Carol with an idea. Why not create a group on Facebook for the descendants of James Hyrum Bunce and his wife, Florence Reich?
I contacted Carol by e-mail (found in the reunion invitation) and we connected on Facebook. I then created the James Hyrum Bunce Family group on Facebook with Carol as the first member. It is a private group so you must be invited to join. The group was created on Tuesday (5 days ago) and it already has 43 members. That is 38 more relatives that I have contact with now that I didn’t know a week ago. Amazing!
GenPerfect is connected and social.
In my first GenPerfect post I mentioned that you could add living members to your database via Facebook. Lately my third cousin has added me to two closed Facebook groups for common ancestors: Thomas Tucker Family & William Henry Dollar Family
Members of these groups include living descendants of a common ancestor. Messages include the lineage of members back to the common ancestor as well as photos and digitized documents. What if GenPerfect could be pointed to these groups? You could see the list of your messages inside your genealogy software on the dashboard. The messages could be parsed and the mini-lineage added to your database citing Facebook as the source. Any photos added to the group would be imported as part of your media collection. GenPerfect would even allow you to update your Facebook status without leaving the application. You could configure the software to automatically prompt you for a Facebook status update at key moment such as when you add a photo or document or when you enter a conclusion and close out a research project. You could choose to post these to a group or your wall.
Similar to updating your Facebook status, you could also choose to tweet from inside GenPerfect. When prompted to update your status, you could choose to also post to Twitter.
By selecting a photo, some information in a database, or a research project and clicking a “Quick Post” link, a blog post would be assembled ready for you to edit and post to your blog. All without leaving GenPerfect.
In December 2008, I wrote a blog post titled 9 Genealogy Predictions for 2009. It is now time to review that list and see how well the predictions matched reality.
1. Two more desktop genealogy applications will support source citation templates from Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained. Currently Legacy 7 and RootsMagic 4 support this. The other two might likely be Family Tree Maker and The Master Genealogist.
Family Tree Maker 2009 now supports source citation templates following Evidence Explained. To my knowledge, no other desktop genealogy applications have announced this support.
2. One major online database (Ancestry, WorldVitalRecords, FamilySearch, Footnote) will announce upcoming support for Evidence Explained source citations. Other sites will soon follow with their own announcements.
I am disappointed that none of the mentioned online databases support Evidence Explained source citations. Please correct me if I am mistaken. If GenSeek is released in 2010, maybe it will be the first.
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:
According to Guy Kawasaki (author, speaker, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, etc.) one key point to great innovation is “Jumping Curves” which means moving from the curve where everyone else is to a new curve. The folks at WorldVitalRecords.com have been talking about this concept lately which is where I heard about it. See ”How To Innovate And Change The World” by Whitney Ransom and “Jumping Curves At WorldVitalRecords.com and FamilyLink.com” by Yvette Arts. The second article asks for suggestions about jumping curves. The following is part of an e-mail that I sent in response:
I like the fact the WorldVitalRecords geocodes all records added to their site. Why you are at it, why don’t you add source citations in metadata/xml form following the conventions in Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace?
Currently source citation is hard. When it is available, it is in text format that must be copied and pasted into your genealogy program. But source citation is vital so that proper evaluation of evidence can be done and so that constant re-examination of the same records can be avoided. If when you click on a document to download the image, the link was instead something like an rss link that has metadata with it (think rss enclosure tag) and if that xml format were a standard then genealogy software could read the information, add the image to the application, and add the proper source citation. What could be easier for a user than every time a document image is downloaded from an online database, the source was automatically cited? The software developers would be half way there as they would then just need to add a way to manually add the same information for offline sources.
The first analysis that needs to be done with a source is to determine if it is original or derivative. The metadata could include this information already. The next step would be to have the metadata for derivative sources include the source provenance all the way back to the original. Who would be in a better position to know that than the site owner who negotiated with the owner of the source content? This identification would then only have to be done once correctly and it would save many family historians/genealogists from doing the same work and sometimes incorrectly.
Now the metadata would also be available to search engines and special source searches could be created to find and aggregate the information. Think about what Google, Technorati, Digg, del.icio.us, Facebook or others could do with this type of information.
- Creating a source citation metadata standard.
- Being the first records site to metadata source cite all their content.
- Making it extremely easy to cite online sources.
- Creating a whole new way to search for records.
Now talk about jumping curves!
Some of these ideas I have shared before in Expanded Vision of Genealogy 2.0.
Happy curve jumping.