Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Contemplating Organization and Chaos
When I was in the Army stationed in Panama, one of the Majors in our office had a saying on the wall attributed to Gaius Petronius Arbiter (ca 27-66 AD) a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero. OK so I liked the quote, but it turns out to
be fake. Apparently, Arbiter was real but the quote is not. There is
not any proven link to him and any of writings attributed to him. See Wikipedia:Petronius. Notwithstanding the lack of provenance, the quote was thought provoking.
It said, "We trained hard - but it seemed every time we were beginning to form up
into teams we were reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend
to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it
can be for creating the illusion of progress while actually producing
confusion, inefficiency and demoralization."
Where ever this quote came from, it applies to genealogy as much as it did to the Army. How many times do we spend our time "reorganizing our files" when what we really need to do is research? I have yet to meet a genealogist who thought their files were well organized, even those people with immaculate notebooks full of sheet protectors. No one will ever accuse me of being overly organized, especially when I see the notebook people and feel guilty because of the piles of stuff I have to go through.