Commentator ACProctor made the following comment in response to the post on whether or not a local database was necessary?:
Ignoring the fact that the models used for shared/collaborative trees demonstrably do not work, there are some important questions regarding use of cloud storage:I think that I would like to respond to each of the issues raised. This might take me some time, but here it goes.
1) Who owns the data and what use will it be put to?
2) How public will it be and what about maintaining senstive information?
3) When a work involves significant investment, what about copyright?
4) What happens to the data when I become a leaf on my own tree?
5) When you're still working on a hypothesis, how do you prevent it being prematurely copied all over the place and becoming a "de facto truth"?
The commentator makes the statement that "the models used for shared/collaborative trees demonstrably do not work..." I am not certain what he refers to with this statement. I am only aware of a very few "shared/collaborative trees." For example, Geni.com has what they call " the definitive online family tree" which is designed to be collaborative and presently has over 70 million people. There are other online family trees that are inherently collaborative such as WeRelate.org and FamilySearch.org's Family Tree. It seems to me that all three of these different approaches to an online collaborative family tree seem to work very well. Since that is the case, I am not sure in what way they do not "work."
The basic issue is whether or not it is feasible to have the sole repository of your genealogical research online and publicly available? By my question in my previous post, I did not wish to imply that you could not keep your own data off the main computer and on a desktop or some other location apart from the public member trees.
Now to the questions.
No. 1: Who owns the data and what use will it be put to?
In the ideal model of an online collaborative family tree, no one owns the data. That is what is meant by the term collaborative. The tree is the sum total of all of the contributions made from all of the users. As long as there are mechanisms in place to assure the integrity of the data and provisions for sources, notes, additional documents and other supporting information, the existence of collaboration alone does not negate accuracy. If this question refers to a use of the data by others than the primary contributors of the data, the question presupposes an agenda by the host of the online tree to use the data for some purpose other than that imposed on the data by the users. I am not sure again how this would be accomplished.
No. 2: How public will it be and what about maintaining sensitive information?
This is a real concern if the only copy of the data is online. However, realistically, this only applies to living individuals who may be incorporated into the online tree. I would assume, as is the case with nearly all online family trees, that information about any living people would be blocked to anyone except the originator. I have a rather liberal view of need to consider any information about remote ancestors as "sensitive." Any information that directly impacts a living person would fall into this category, but there is no reason to include personal or sensitive information about living people. Even in collaborative trees, there is often a way to mark information private and restrict access.
No. 3: When a work involves significant investment, what about copyright?
No one should add any information to an online collaborative family tree that they wish to maintain was subject to a claim of copyright. Any copyrighted information should be immediately removed at the author's request. Just because the public tree exists does not mean that copyrighted information needs to be included. No matter whether or not the program itself is entirely online, private and owned files will always be necessary.
No. 4: What happens to the data when I become a leaf on my own tree?
This is a serious question that has no present satisfactory answer. I have written several blog posts about the disposition of online data upon the death of the "owner." I will continue to comment on this issue in subsequent posts.
No. 5: When you're still working on a hypothesis, how do you prevent it being prematurely copied all over the place and becoming a "de facto truth"?
This is likely one of the better arguments for a local database and may very well tip the scale against a totally public, and thereby copiable, database.
These are very perceptive questions in a very good comment. Thanks for the response. The topics are not exhausted and I would welcome further comments.