Fortunately, David published his slide presentation on the BYU Conference site. The presentation is entitled, "The Role of FamilySearch in a Worldwide Community." I was very interested to view the slides after a read an article in the LDSChurch News on the Deseret News website. This article is entitled, "FamilySearch today facilitates as much as gathers family history." When I read the Church News article, I found a number of historical inaccuracies, so I took the time to follow all the links in the article and was able to find David Rencher's slide presentation. I could not believe that the inaccurate information came from David and that turned out to be the case. Enough said about that. Having participated in many newsworthy events over the years, I find newspapers have rarely gotten the entire story correct. This, of course, says a lot about using newspapers for genealogical research.
OK, back to the slide presentation. The initial thrust of the presentation was a brief overview of the history of FamilySearch beginning with the establishment of the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1894. Because I feel that the history of FamilySearch is very little understood, as evidenced by the newspaper article, and I will be starting a series of posts on my other blog, Rejoice, and be exceeding glad... on this subject very soon (I am presently attending The Foundation for East European Family History Studies Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah as a mentor and providing research support. As soon as that is over today, I will concentrate on beginning my series on the history of FamilySearch.
FamilySearch has grown from its humble beginnings 120 years ago, to its present worldwide reach. According to David's presentation, FamilySearch.org has over 8 million hits per day, with over 3 million+ users, and over 1400 record collections (1796 today to be exact) with over 3 billion searchable names.
What was very interesting was some of the background to how the present FamilySearch.org Family Tree was developed. The previous information is easily available in books or online, but slides showing the background to FamilySearch.org Family Tree have an insight which I am sure has never been put online before. In fact, this background has likely never been publicly acknowledged. What is a new twist for FamilySearch is the clear explanation of Family Tree's relationship to online wiki programs, especially Wikipedia. During the early introduction of Family Tree and during the past two years or so, FamilySearch presenters on the subject have been careful not to refer to Family Tree as a wiki, even though that was obviously the basis for the program. In fact, one the slides goes so far as to acknowledge that Family Tree was modeled after Wikipedia!
Of course, I have been saying that Family Tree was a wiki since I first saw the program, but my comments have been ignored. Why is this important? Because it moves Family Tree into the mainstream of online programs and explains how and why the program will succeed as a unified tree. All you really have to do to understand this statement is realize that if wikis did not function as they are intended to function, Wikipedia would not be in the top ten most visited websites in the world.
Why was Family Tree's origin ignored for all that time? I think the answer is complex and involves the general ignorance about how and why wikis work as they do. I have been maintaining for years, that the only way of correcting the huge contradictory pile of genealogy generated over the years is to put the whole pile in a wiki. It is also obvious to me, from what I have heard about the program since its introduction that the software engineers who developed the program were well aware of the advantages of a wiki to handle massive amounts of information. So the Emperor finally admits he has no clothes?
One other comment on a slide. One slide is entitled, "Family Tree Functions under Consideration or Development." Interesting. The list is as follows:
- Merge Duplicates
- Number of People Agree with Content
- Contact with any other user
- Number of People Watching a Person/Family
- Voting on Accuracy
It is comforting to know that FamilySearch listens. You might want to read the post I recently wrote for FamilySearch entitled "The Future of Family History: Peering into the Mist." You might see some of the things I discuss on the list above. I will have a lot more to say about the subject brought up in David's slides as soon as I work my way through my huge list of blog topics.