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.