Thursday, November 6, 2014

21st century genealogy... looking forward while looking back

File:Science museum 025 adjusted.jpg 

In the late eighties, shortly after my grandfather retired he decide to take up genealogy as his retirement hobby.  So he purchased a new computer and genealogy software.  He had a DOS based computer which ran the Roots III software program.  He began putting all of his names, dates and locations into the software.  Through the 90's he upgraded computers and software, moving up to a windows based computer and upgrading to Roots IV and then to Ultimate Family Tree when the company that made the Roots software got bought out.  On Ultimate Family Tree he stayed.  

I recently got a call from him that his a new computer with Window 8 on it would not run the old genealogy software.  He is so use to the interface of UFT he doesn't want to learn a new software but  the old software won't work.  As an IT person, I hope to be able to discuss with him over the holidays the problem.  I have emailed him a possible solution but need to see if they worked for him.  I hope to be able to visit him to get it fixed before the new year.  

Keeping up with changing technology
I tell this story not to solicit advice for an old software but the point of the story is this: Are you keeping up with technology of the future, as you continue your family journey in to the past.  It is difficult to change to an new program once you have mastered the nuances and shortcuts of another program.  Are you prepared if your hard drive crashed for what you would do, not only for back ups, but for transferring to a new machine.  Hard drive crashes happen everyday, so we have to be prepared for them.  We must also keep up when our software is out of date.  There are various resources in the genealogy community that have been available for years, such as a GEDCOM file that should help transition to a more modern software.  But we also have to look at how is the industry leader when picking software.  And also look at the possibly that the days of buying software at a store that come with 2 or 3 CD ROMs to load the program on the computer may be coming to an end.  The world is going wireless and cloud based and software is downloaded no longer bough as it was in times past. That too comes with risks and caveats.  Trusting the cloud and having your tree online is great but also has risks to doing so with things that are not always tangible or accessible and you many not have recourse if you are not backed up with a hard copy.  Keeping all things online could wind up in you having nothing at all if the service goes down. 

Utilizing new technology
As we discussed in the post about smartphones there are millions of apps and websites for genealogies to try.  Some will be junk but some might be helpful.  This is also true about websites.  An example was that I was putting names into Google to see what might come up.  I was dealing with an rather unusual name so it was easier to sort the results.  I found a website of the survivors of a Air Force unit that my other grandfather had been a part of in WWII.  It listed all the bombing runs that he had done over Europe as well as the crew of each mission.  This was info that no one in my family had and i found in on Google.   

Depending on how much you watch TV you have seen that has been putting out and ad campaign to get new users. This can be a start but it is not always as easy as they make is seem and doesn't have all of the genealogy resources wrapped up yet.  So I remain neutral on if an membership is right for you.  But know that there are many things you can find just perusing the Internet.  Many things that we previously only found in library are now finding their way to the Internet.  Some for free and some with a price.  You have to decide what resources are right for you and how much they are worth to you.  

If you are still finding all of your info in the library or archives (both great sources) and not looking what modern technology has done for genealogy in the form of the Internet or genealogy software and resources then you are handicapping yourself and your research.  If you still have your ten year old computer with old irreplaceable software that is not longer supported and no modern day back up of USB sticks or CDs for all of your thousands of names then you are playing with fire and all your work could go up in a puff of smoke.        

No comments:

Post a Comment