Doing genealogy today is fun. I wish I had the time and money to do more of it! Even when I did, it was a frustrating process. There is at once too much information and too little of it. The only solution to both problems seems to be an investment of more time and money. Well, there is one other solution — get someone else to do the work. I have been extremely fortunate in this regard: people on both sides of my family have provided me with excellent information.
Even when new information is available, it is hard to combine it with what you already know. I don’t have the patience some of my kind relatives have shown, and really I shouldn’t need it. Doing genealogy should be much easier. I think I know how it can be.
I had a genealogy site once before, but didn’t have enough material to put on it, so I let it go. Now I’ve more to say. Here are a few points I plan to expand on later:
More Sophisticated Technology is Needed
There is nothing advanced or hi-tech about current genealogy software. It is never more than a fancy interface to a database. The only exception I could cite is Pajek, a sophisticated program for large network analysis, which can handle Gedcoms. It’s not really a genealogy program, however, since it lacks the database and fancy interface. Adding Pajek like capabilities to ordinary genealogy software would be a large step forward, but I’d like to see many other mathematical algorithms used as well.
Better Free Services are Needed
Though more and more people are paying for accounts with Ancestry.com and other genealogy services (several owned by Ancestry), the lack of a good free resource keeps away people who would have much to contribute. There are free services out there, but they are far from adequate, certainly not good. I’m sorry if this comment offends those who run these services, but none lives up to the standards I’d like to see. I’ll spell those out in detail later on another page, but briefly, a good free resource should pull information from the user, painlessly, effortlessly, but thoroughly, instead of making it difficult to enter — then it should make it easy for people to find what they want. I know how this can be done, and will spell that out later. For now, as an example of easily extracting information from people, look at my Social Tech R & D page and imagine doing genealogy by holding a conversation with something like a smartphone.
It Should Be Easier to Find and Cooperate with Distant Relatives
Since I have mentioned Social Technology, my main obsession for decades, let me point its obvious application to genealogy. Other than what one gleans from document research, the main source of genealogical information is other people. Much of the value of Ancestry.com comes from access to other people’s trees. In its role as a service to its subscribers, Ancestry does serve a social-tech role, as I have defined it many times on various pages. The actual technology is not at all sophisticated. There is no mathematics to it. Rule of thumb: if its not mathematical deep down, its not hi-tech. What I have been advocating and trying to develop is what I call Advanced Social Technology, something truly hi-tech, based on known mathematical methods, nothing new and startling, just stuff nobody has seen reason to incorporate in any form of social technology. Facebook and the other social media seem neolithic to me. Given a truly advanced form of social technology it would be easy to find those unknown distant relatives who would be pleased to share information with you.
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