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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Genealogy One Byte at a Time -- Part One

Genealogy can be daunting. There is an old Boy Scout joke that asks: how do you eat an elephant? The answer is "one bite at a time." Well, doing your family history or genealogy is really an infinite series of small tasks done over and over again. Because you repeatedly do essentially the same conceptual tasks over and over, you can get to be very efficient in doing each small task.

Over the years, many of the routine genealogical tasks have become semi-automated by computerization. Even some of the more involved tasks, such as researching source records, have now started to be automated by the larger, online genealogy family tree websites. By taking advantage of the technological automation and becoming proficient in doing those tasks that are still manually required, you can spend incrementally short periods of time and still accomplish a great deal.

One of the most important parts of this process of implementing technology in genealogy involves "time and motion" studies. Like many people, I became aware of time and motion studies when I read and then watched the book and movie called "Cheaper by the Dozen." The book, Cheaper by the Dozen is a biographical novel written by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. By the way, Frank and Ernestine were brother and sister. Featured in the book and movie is the concept of time and motion studies, one of the concepts that promoted automation. Here is a citation to the book.

Gilbreth, Frank B., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. 2013. Cheaper by the dozen.

Here is a description of time and motion study from Wikipedia:
A time and motion study (or time-motion study) is a business efficiency technique combining the Time Study work of Frederick Winslow Taylor with the Motion Study work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (the same couple as is best known through the biographical 1950 film and book Cheaper by the Dozen). It is a major part of scientific management (Taylorism). After its first introduction, time study developed in the direction of establishing standard times, while motion study evolved into a technique for improving work methods. The two techniques became integrated and refined into a widely accepted method applicable to the improvement and upgrading of work systems. This integrated approach to work system improvement is known as methods engineering and it is applied today to industrial as well as service organizations, including banks, schools and hospitals.
What has this got to do with genealogy? Well, I have noticed that when people first get interested in searching for their ancestors, they tend to spend hours and hours searching. Then when they start to discover that the whole process is not quite as easy as my first seem, they believe that they need to spend a lot of time and so doing "genealogy" is put into the "time consuming" category for "when I have the time to do that." Usually, this equates to putting it off until the magical years of "retirement" or even later. Many of these would be genealogists just give up. They are, in essence, trying to eat the elephant all in one sitting.

As I look at the classes being taught at genealogy conferences around the country, I notice that many of the classes focus on one or more very narrow aspects of genealogical research and commensurate activities. For this series of posts, I intend to discuss those areas of genealogy that can be measurably assisted by technology and to acknowledge those that can't. I will also review those specific skills that measurable assist genealogists in today's online world. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at how you can benefit from all those technological advances.

No comments:

Post a Comment