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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

BYU Family History Technology Workshop -- Curt B. Witcher, MLS, FUGA, IGSF

After a very interesting couple of hours with app demos and discussions, we got the opportunity to hear a presentation from Curt B. Witcher, MLS, FUGA, IGSF of the Allen County Public Library talking about the future of genealogy. Quoting, "Everybody has a story..." Stories are important in establishing that everyone counts and has an important place in society. As usual this is a report of what is said, filtered through my own impressions.

If more people than ever are involved in "genealogy" where are they? Curt made a reference to the increase of interest in family history. I guess I have the same question, what do we mean by family history? What is it that I do?

The new generation is interested in fun and success and involved with technology. He shows the video about the quick discovery of ancestors.

He talks of present needs of Integrated Library Systems that need to begin having databases talk to each other, marrying meta-data to the user experience. Using the OCLC catalog to help to normalize the data. The catalogs should be able to be searched for specific information rather than letting it hide behind the cataloging system. He shows how a digitized record of a book in the program is not available to someone looking in another institution.  My impression is that we have moved a tremendous distance in this direction but there is still a residual need for people to think and do their own research. It would be an amazing development is we had context searching, but now, this is the still the purview of the individual researcher.

Results that are returned from searches should lead to additional data. There should be a way for an individual family file, including all of the data, to be compared and searched in "innumerable databases including facial recognition and DNA results. In other words, he wants to expand the capabilities of searching to include all relevant data.

What's wrong with GEDCOM? We can do better than that. We need to have a way to transfer and preserve different media even those images and files, both video and audio, that are in existence.

Opportunities for expansion include mobile and wearable. We need to incorporate surveillance technology such as drones and wearable audio. We need to apply science and virtual reality. Can we come up with a reconstructed picture of what our ancestors looked like?

This is a very interesting view of what is possible in the future. We need to probe who we are to find out more about our ancestors. This was a very thought provoking discourse and very useful to make me start more thinking.

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