Monday, July 3, 2017
Putting Your Sundial in the Shade
Today we were briefly visiting a neighbor's home and I saw a very nice sundial that was sitting in the deep shade of a tree and a large bush. I am certain that this neighbor has simply not given any thought to the use of the sundial other than as a decorative garden object. How many of us as genealogists ignore the benefits of our modern technology in the same fashion? We use our tablets and computers for trivial (in the shade) uses when they are designed for intensive use in a very technical way.
Computers in all their iterations are general tools. By contrast, a sundial is a very specialized, single-use tool. It tells the approximate time of day when the sun is shining and assuming it is properly oriented to true north at noonday. See "How to set up a horizontal sundial." If you were to read this linked article you would find out that even though sundials are single-use tools, they are fairly complicated. Computers, on the other hand, as general use tools are almost infinitely complicated. For example, I am writing this blog post on my computer while listening to music and interrupting my writing to do research on the topic of the blog. Another example is my use of the iPhone (another general use computer). In the course of a typical day, I will normally use between twenty and thirty different apps (programs).
Granted, I am far from the "average" computer user. But I am constantly finding new ways to work with these marvelous tools. I am also constantly looking at new or updated programs, trying to see if they will improve the way I do my research. I keep coming back to this theme because of its impact and importance to advancing genealogical research out of the 19th Century.
In the near future, I plan to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I will write about some of my impressions concerning the issue of using computers as generalized tools and taking advantage of the things they do best.