Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Issues Left Over From This Past Year

Instead of my own resolutions for the past year, as the year 2014 comes to a close, it is time for a review of the yet unresolved issues of the year in the larger genealogical community. I have written a couple of posts on my views of the future of genealogy, but it is also important to see where we have been and what yet needs to be done.

Reviewing the issues in my past blog posts involves about 655 posts so far this year. I think that is a good bit off from past years, probably due to the move to Utah and several extended vacations (for me, an extended vacation is anything over 2 days without writing). If you are wondering (which I am sure you are not), I have posted a total of 3550 blog posts since this blog began in November of 2008. My first Genealogy's Star blog post was entitled, "Check out the FamilySearch Wiki" and has had a total of 50 views since it was posted. The format was bad and the writing was pretty amateurish. If I keep writing, I just may learn how before I am condemned to the care center or pass on to my eternal reward.

Oh, I might mention one thing I have learned from living in Provo, Utah for the past few months; the weather reports bear no relationship to the actual weather. I assume that there is a lesson to be learned there about trying to predict what will happen in the future. The reason I say this is because the weather report said there was a 10% chance of rain and it snowed here at our house.

My first post in 2014 was entitled, "I can use my iPad for genealogy." As the year progressed, I think I actually may have used my iPad for genealogy a couple of times. Trying to enter data and make corrections with my clumsy fingers proved to be too frustrating. I am wedded to a keyboard. Sales of this type of device continued to soar and I saw more people carrying them around and using them, but I did not see any sort-of dramatic increase in the expansion of genealogy products for these devices or the popularity of such programs or apps. There were several new apps introduced during 2015, but I have yet to hear anyone talk about using them. I am not sure this is an unresolved issue, but it is something to watch during the upcoming year.

For me, the first really unresolved issue of 2014 was and is the merge function in the Family Tree. My initial 2014 post on this subject was entitled, "Stepping off into the Merging and Searching Morass on FamilySearch." Well, the searching capability of Family Tree has improved dramatically over the year, but we are still at a dead stop as users to any improvements to the merging issue. In fact, I just wrote about this issue again this past month with a series of posts in response to a FamilySearch post on the subject. You can see the last post in the series at "Remaining issues with FamilySearch Family Tree - Part Four, the rest of the story" with links to the earlier posts. It appears that this issue will still be around in 2016, skipping over 2015 altogether.

One ongoing issue I raised early on in 2014 was the issue of the death of cursive writing. See "The Future of Cursive." This is not an issue that will go away. It will only get much, much worse before it gets better. If it ever does. The subject of cursive writing was still a hot topic in 2014, since the education "Common Core standards" do not include cursive writing. See this post on neaToday, the blog of the National Education Association, "Does Cursive Need to Be Taught in the Digital Age?" This post from the NEA gives an overview of the current thought on the subject. I am putting this on my agenda for a post in the near future.

Copyright issues kept surfacing during 2014 as they probably will in the future also. My posts pretty well evolved over the year. I began to see current U.S. Copyright law as major obstacle to innovation, research and the development of large online record repositories. I am still finding books that are clearly not subject to copyright, listed as copyrighted and subject to restricted access merely because the hosts of the databases do not take the time to review the legal copyright status of the material they hold. I also find online repositories claiming copyright to material from the 1800s and before when there is no logical reason for such claims. This is especially true in countries such as the United Kingdom that the claim copyright in perpetuity.

I don't know whether you would call it an issue, but the acquisition of smaller genealogy companies by the the very large companies kept rolling on in 2014. I expect to see several such announcements in 2015 also.

In a return to an old, dusty issue, I still saw several major statements about the universal popularity of genealogy during the year of 2014. The claim that genealogy is one of the most popular pursuits continues to be repeated without a shred of substantiation and I will probably come back to this issue again in the future.

I wrote a lot of posts in 2014 about #RootsTech and I will be attending again this year and presenting and blogging, so I will probably have a lot to say again.

After hearing another sad story yesterday about lost date, I assume the issue of backing up genealogy files will continue off into the foreseeable future and I will likely continue writing about it. I also suffered my own share of this issue when the hard drive in my main computer was crashing and I had to restore all of the contents of my iMac from an Apple Time Machine backup. I found that copying all the data from your drive is only part of the story. I had to upgrade programs and retrieve passwords and am still suffering from the transition.

There were probably a number of other topics that will continue to be addressed in the future. The challenge of information literacy is one of the newer topics I will probably address many times in the coming year. But for now, I will move on to another post on another subject.

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