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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bits and Pieces of Observations on Genealogy, the World and Everything

Sometimes I have a lot of thoughts going on in my head at the same time and it is hard to tune into only one, so I write a lot of things down and then I can return to focusing on one thing at a time. Here are a few of the thoughts going on right now.

It seems like I get a constant stream of bogus blog post comments. These usually take the form of a compliment on a post I wrote some time ago. The posts are always very vague and contain a reference to a website that has nothing whatsoever to do with genealogy. I wonder why these spam comments are always full of typos, misspellings and bad grammar. I suspect that many of them come from non-English speaking countries.

Speaking of comments. I seem to have captured the interest of a few people who appear to have deep psychological problems and are directing their anger at FamilySearch and/or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of these comments are along the line that online genealogy programs are a scam and are directly responsible for identity theft. One comment described how the commentator's identity had been stolen and then immediately used to access You would think that a person who went to the trouble to steal someone's identity would be interested in more than access to an online family tree and records program. From my perspective this is interesting because my own name has appeared as a descendant of an ancestor in several books that are generally available, so my particular genealogy has been a matter of public record for many years and this has nothing whatsoever to do with an online family tree. Additionally, much of the information in the online trees showing my name and pedigree etc. is wrong, so what is the point? I have also yet to see any record of someone using an online family tree to steal someone's identity. If you know of an actual criminal prosecution where that was an issue, you might point that out to me.

Following up on my last comment, I still see banks and other financial institutions using readily available quasi-genealogical information as security questions, such as your mother's maiden name and your grandfather's first name. These are stupid questions and the information is so easily obtained as to be trivial. If you think about it, how many times when you were a child did you fill out a form that had your parents or guardian's name? Even if these people are dead, i.e. parents and grandparents, what about obituaries and other death notices?

Coming up rather quickly on #RootsTech 2015, I have been talking to a few developers who are pretty obviously thinking of introducing some new genealogy-type programs at the Conference. As usual, I wish them the best. Along this line, I had been watching in the past as an up and coming company and then it got bought out by That puts it in the category of other acquired companies of which there are now quite a few out there. I am aware that for quite a few start-ups, the goal is acquisition, but in the rather limited genealogy world, this is pretty obvious. I see a lot of benefits from the acquisitions, but I am not sure we have seen much innovation come out of the acquired companies. The large acquiring company seems to benefit greatly, in some cases, but the benefit to the acquired company is not so clear.

I am seeing a few new startup companies focusing on the idea of social networking and genealogy. Last year the new companies were all about stories and photographs. This is an interesting development because so many of the people I deal with day after day are fairly old and most of them are not at all involved in social networking. Are we beginning to see a trend where genealogy becomes a new sort-of social networking type activity rather than the markedly individual activity it has been in the past? The success of in attracting new members would seem to indicate that something is going on.

My own life has taken a decided turn. The past few years, I have been immersed in genealogy conference presentations. I had as many as thirty or more conferences a year, sometimes four or five a month. That seemed to suddenly come to an end as I moved to Provo, Utah. Perhaps it is a commentary on my presentation style. Right now, I am scheduled to teach at #RootsTech 2015 and that is it. I have no other conferences scheduled. However, I seem to have traded conference attendance for teaching and speaking engagements. Conservatively estimating, I have probably taught well over 100 classes since I came to Utah, some weeks I have had 19 classes in seven days. It doesn't look like I will become a recluse anytime soon. I do see this as a reflection on the decline of commercial conferences and the rise of local, non-profit ones. Your local genealogy group or Stake Genealogy Fair is very unlikely to hire me to fly across the country.

Along this line, I am seeing a marked increase in genealogy cruises with more blogging commentary on the cruise experience. I did a search on "genealogy cruise 2015" and see a list of quite a few already planned. I am sure we will hear more about this in the future.

Talking about the move from Mesa, Arizona to Provo, Utah. We are finally mostly settled in Utah. Of course there are still a lot of comments about the weather changes from 100 degree+ to snow, but that seems to be somewhat overblown. I understand it is unusual, but the Fall weather in Provo has been outstandingly pleasant. We live right next to the Wasatch Mountains and so far the transition has been complicated but the weather is not the challenge right now.

Interestingly, much of the recent genealogical controversy has been with subjects I have raised in my other blog, Rejoiceandbeexceedingglad... This past week many of the recent issues I have discussed on that blog, have turned into common topics of discussion.

One thing is certain, anything I thought I would be doing when I moved to Utah, has turned out to be wildly inaccurate. I imagined things like hikes up the canyon etc. I did not imagine how many classes I would be teaching. One thing is also very apparent, I have not run out of  things to write about.

1 comment:

  1. You haven't run out of things to write about and I haven't tired of reading your posts. A win win situation. Thanks James :)