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Better Online Citations – Details Part 3 (MARC)

Saturday, 20 Jun 2009 | by Mark Tucker

marc21h2

Over the past few months, I have shared an idea about how to make citing online sources easier.  You can find out more about this on the page, A Better Way to Cite Online Sources.  Some of the suggestions that came from the survey and posts Details Part 1 and Details Part 2 (GEDCOM) was why not use an existing standard. 

One of the suggestions was using Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS).  MODS is a “schema for a bibliographic element set that may be used for a variety of purposes, and particularly for library applications.” and is maintained by the Library of Congress.1

 Now I suspect I will talk more about MODS in a future post, but the reason I bring it up now is because immediately in researching MODS I came across another acronymn, MARC. MARC stands for MAchine-Readable Cataloging and the MARC formats are “standards for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form.”2 Most of the discussion I came across dealt with MARC 21 which (according to Understanding MARC Bibliographic: Machine-Readable Cataloging) is “the standard used by most library computer programs.”

 Now let’s return to the specific case identified in the video, “A Better Way to Cite Online Sources.”  We have a website that identifies a book source.  One of the three representations of a citation found in Evidence Explained is a Source List Entry or in other words a bibliographic entry:

 Evidence Explained - Book Basic Format - Source List Entry

So the book, A History of Emery County would look like this:

Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996.

 The main parts (or fields) of the entry are:

  1. Author
  2. Title (main & sub)
  3. Publication (place, publisher, year)

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Better Online Citations Surveys Now Closed

Sunday, 7 Jun 2009 | by Mark Tucker

Almost 50 days ago, I posted a video titled “A Better Way to Cite Onilne Sources” with 2 corresponding surveys. Since then 358 people responded to the individual survey and 9 to the company/organization survey. It was my first time using SurveyMonkey for online surveys and overall I was pleased with the website. I did have grand hopes that at least 1,000 people would respond to the survey to get more accurate results. To date, the video has been viewed 2,483 times.  It seems like a good time to end the survey and analyze the results.  Plus, keeping the survey going costs $19.95 a month and I budgeted for only two months.

I plan to e-mail a copy of the results to all those who took the survey and provided an e-mail address.  If you took the survey, didn’t provide your e-mail, and still want a copy of the results, contact me via this contact link.

As time permits, I will write about the survey results and some of the feedback I received.

I am grateful to the many bloggers and podcasters that spread the word about this effort.  Thank you for all that watched the video and participated in the survey.  I am excited to see how this effort continues over the next months and years.

Sincerely,

Mark Tucker

Better Online Citations – Details Part 2 (GEDCOM)

Sunday, 3 May 2009 | by Mark Tucker

GEDCOM support by Legacy 7, RootsMagic 4, and Family Tree Maker 2009

In Better Online Citations – Details Part 1 we examined how the QuickCheck model for “Book: Basic format” from Evidence Explained was coded in Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy 7, and RootsMagic 4. From the screens we were able to identify implementation differences between the three applications. There are also differences between the applications in how citation information is conveyed via a GEDCOM export. The individual fields shown on the template screens are lost in the standard GEDCOM export making it impossible to create a rich EE-style citation in one application, export it to GEDCOM, and import it into another application while retaining that richness. In all cases (except when the exporter and importer of the GEDCOM is RootsMagic 4), the citation is changed from a “Book: Basic format” to a generic “old-style” (pre EE) format with important details lost.

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The Future of Genealogy Software is not “Hard to See”

Thursday, 29 Nov 2007 | by Mark Tucker

Many years ago I was (incorrectly) singing the words to the song, “Que, Sera, Sera” and my wife pointed out my humorous mistake.

Instead of singing:

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see

I sang:

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not hard to see

This personal joke has been used many times since then and has never failed to deliver a cheerful effect.

I think that the author and design leader, Bill Buxton, would agree that the “future’s not hard to see.” In his book, “Sketching User Experiences: getting the design right and the right design,” Bill stresses the importance of looking at least 5 years down the road when designing user experiences and adds:

Now most people say that you cannot predict the future, much less five years out. They use this as an excuse for not making the effort, or even contemplating it. I believe that this reflects a lack of training, technique, or responsibility on the part of design or management. (page 209)

He then goes on to quote William Gibson from an NPR interview on 30 November 1999:

… the future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed.

Buxton gives two examples. The first computer mouse was built in 1964 but didn’t reach widespread use until about 1995 – 30 years later. The idea for the CD came around 1965 but it wasn’t until 25 years later in 1990 that the industry reached $1 billion. From idea, to design, to prototype, to first production, to ubiquity takes time.

Bill then makes this statement that I would like us to consider:

If history is any indication, we should assume that any technology that is going to have a significant impact over the next 10 years is already 10 years old. (page 215)

Innovation Future Timeline

 This made me wonder if this could be applied to genealogy software. What has happened over the last 10 years that could affect the design and innovation of genealogy software over the next 10 years?

At first nothing came to mind, but then I thought of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book, “Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian” which was published in 1997. In 2007, the much expanded “Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace” was released. We are now beginning to see specific examples of Elizabeth’s work showing up in genealogy software. In a podcast interview by Dick Eastman, Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens indicated that the software Clooz version 2.x was influenced by handouts she received from Elizabeth Shown Mills. Another example is from a podcast by DearMYRTLE where she interviews Geoff Rasmussen about Legacy version 7. In this interview, Geoff gives a sneak peek of one of the major new features which is source citation following the standard set by Elizabeth Shown Mills. There is still much work that needs to be done in this area such as online databases providing better source citations. I talk about this in my previous post about Jumping Curves. So you see, the future is not so hard to see.

Another area that I want to point out is the Genealogical Proof Standard which was also created in 1997 by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Other than its use in the certification process, you don’t hear much about it. But this standard is useful to researchers of all levels to help them get as close to the truth as possible. At some point genealogy software designers and developers will realize this and incorporate it into future genealogy software.

There are probably many more examples of ideas, technology, and methodology that exists today that will help us better see the future of genealogy software.

What things should be added to this list?

As a genealogy community, I hope we aren’t thinking:

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see

Share your thoughts as the future is ours to see.  I hope that is not hard to see.

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