Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jeffrey Bockman on the Future of Genealogy

After I posted  Do you Believe the FamilySearch Vision of the Future?, I received several comments in the blog comments.  I also received one great comment from Jeffrey Bockman on Google Plus (see my stream here) who said:

"I wrote about some of these same issues in The Future Revisited originally published in Everton's Genealogical Helper November/December 2006, page 55. An online copy is available at"

Jeff wrote an extensive article about the Future of Genealogy, and much of it parallels what Jay Verkler, CEO of FamilySearch, said in his Keynote presentation at RootsTech 2012.  In his article, Jeff revisited his predictions made in 1998, and  looked at the present state of the genealogy art in 2006.  Some of his comments from 1998 and 2006 were really on the mark.

Look at this one:

The Family Tree
There needs to be an independent centralized "family tree" repository. If the Kennel Club can do it for dogs, then why can't there be an "official" site for people. The US government has much of the information necessary to populate a large portion of the American modern data, but they most likely will not. Getting other countries to participate is also probably unrealistic. The only way it will happen is through the cooperation of everyone with a vested interest in the data used by the genealogical community."

Or this one:

"With all of the indexing work that needs to be done for the ScanStone Project, wouldn't it be nice if the records could be linked directly to a specific individual. The same is true of all of the census records. All of the various Location and Surname boards would be able to link questions to a unique individual and then everyone with a vested interest could work to resolve any disputes.

"The linking of data to the correct individual is of the utmost importance. Our industry has a history of some excellent well-documented research along with let's just say some "questionable connections." A centralized system would allow everyone to see the actual record, and the conclusions, as well as allow comments or disagreements."

Read all of Jeff's article - check out the last part about Key Issues on Identity theft, record access, unique IDs, usability and cooperation.

Thank you, Jeff, for sharing the article with me and my readers.  I noted that Jeff's article had had 53 visitors since 10 March 2010, about two years ago.  I'll bet he gets a lot more in the next week!

While you're at Jeff's site, read his pages Jeff's Articles on Genealogy and Genealogy According to Jeff that are on the left sidebar.  Lots of good stuff there!  

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Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The BIG BIG BIG problem with a unified world tree, as others pointed out in your previous post, is junk genealogy duplicated over and over and over clogging up the works.

As a non-LDS volunteer at my local FHC, I currently have access to trees which will shortly be rolled out to the general public. But even the public like LDS members, will be allowed to upload Gedcoms. That is simply horrible. The end result is never ending whac-a-mole, i.e trying to merge duplicate individuals.

And merging duplicates is not necessarily easy. I have plenty of distant ancestors who are on multiple times with different vital dates and places and spouses. This forces one to spend orders of magnitude more time to merge, including having to contact those who uploaded junk genealogy trees with thousands of individuals they have name collected off the net, successively rolling it into one giant snowball of junk.

Naturally the LDS church wishes to make the system easy for their members to use. But making them and the general public hand key in each individual after being forced to first check well for duplicates, is the only way to avoid this quagmire. The general authorities of the church however feel otherwise. Added to software problems that are clearly traceable to allowing programmers to drive too many specifications, and the it becomes too unwieldy for a serious genealogist to want to spend time on. I know I won't past minimal familiarization so that I can help patrons at the FHC.