RootsTech 2012, Day 3

I ate nachos way too late last night and hence was awoken by very strange dreams early this morning. But the early bird gets to breakfast with Thomas MacEntee, and I also got to meet Chris Whitten of WikiTree. Caroline Pointer joined us as well.

I was able to attend this morning’s keynote talk by the Ancestry guys led by CEO Tom Sullivan, and they showed some really promising demos of things to come from that site.

Next, I attended Is Your Ancestor Hiding in This Picture? by Patricia Moseley Van Skeik of the Public Library of Cincinnati. This was a follow-up to her talk last year about the 1848 panoramic daguerreotype of Cincinnati. This year, she showed the results of their research into the various buildings and businesses pictured. Really good, inspiring stuff for this photo researcher.

Then, I attended the fold3 overview and learned a lot of new ways to use this service. Their Training Center features videos by Laura Prescott (she also wrote a lot of the collection descriptions).

Check out fold3’s listing of all resources, which shows the completion status of digitization for each collection. Go to the information page about a collection to search or browse just that collection.

You can browse by conflict on the homepage, which is very handy for eliminating irrelevant records.

When you are in a set of search results, use the Watch feature to send you alerts when possible new records are found for a particular person at a particular place.

You can check out which other users are adding information to pages for particular people or annotating particular records and connect with them. You also can upload an image about a person that’s related to other docs and/or their page on fold3. Anything that users upload is free for others to view.

One really nice feature of fold3 is the ability to create memorial pages. Users can create pages for places and organizations, not just individuals.

I had a nice lunch with Linda McCauley, Jenna Mills and Caroline Pointer at Blue Lemon before skipping the last session to get in some last minutes of research at the FHL. That was not going so well, so now I’m back at the hotel, watching my Terps. Will be heading out later with a LibraryThing friend who lives nearby.

Stay tuned for more posts from me including my best-of tips that I learned at RootsTech and my overall thoughts on this year’s event. Something for me to work on during the long flight tomorrow.

Changing with the Times

I’m going to wax philosophical after all of the talk since RootsTech about a genealogy technology revolution. I recently got to thinking how genealogy isn’t the only realm in which big changes are happening (and I’m not just talking about the Middle East either).

The most recent copy of American Libraries from the American Library Association includes an article titled “Is ALA Ripe for Rebellion?” (January/February 2011, page 84). The Special Libraries Association recently went through an “alignment” process that included an attempt to change the name of the association.

In both of the above instances, the associations are struggling to keep up with the times and the needs of their members. Technology is playing a big role in the challenges they are facing and the solutions available to them. I think genealogy is experiencing a similar shift and the RootsTech conference brought the issue front and center.

When change is on the horizon, it can be frightening and it’s natural to want to batten down the hatches and try to weather the storm, but change also can be a good thing. Consider this quote from Thomas Jefferson included in the above American Libraries article:

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical… It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.” (p. 85)

Indeed, when a thunderstom rolls through, it usually clears the air and leaves the ground ripe for new things to grow. Many in genealogy may view the recent talk since Rootstech as a disruptive thunderstorm, but the changes brewing will lead to many new possibilities and opportunities.

Follow Friday: Relatively Curious About Genealogy

One of the presentations that I attended at RootsTech was led by Tami Glatz of the Relatively Curious About Genealogy blog. Her presentation was called “Cool Tools to Enhance Your Online Research.” One of the tools she covered was her very own — her Internet Genealogy toolbar. I just downloaded it myself, but it looks very promising in terms of the links and resources it contains. I encourage all of you to check out her blog and the toolbar, if you haven’t already. The toolbar can be downloaded from a link at the very top of her blog. Enjoy!

52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy — Week 34: Flickr

Here is the challenge this week:

Week 34: Browse Flickr ( This is a photo-sharing web site allowing users to upload their photos, tag them with specific keywords and share them with the public if desired. Images pertaining to your genealogy research interests may be on this site. For example, one user has photographed and compiled a set of Texas Historical Markers ( Experiment wi…th Flickr for this week’s challenge. Use different search terms related to locations, surnames and cemeteries. Notice how people label their photos. If you have a genealogy blog, describe what you find, or how this tool can benefit genealogy researchers.

I’ve been a Flickr user for quite a while and often will post scans of my family photos on there. You can tag photos with your surnames, place names and other information so that others who share these details with you can find you easily. You also can tag people in your photos and add them to a map. A cousin found me after finding one of my photos.

Other times, I’ll upload the images I’ve used in my blog posts and link back to my blog from Flickr. Using tagging as mentioned above, it’s another way to drive traffic to my blog and to find others with common interests.

Using Gist to Keep Up With It All

Recently, an Internet meme began on the topic of what kinds of technology we use to get things done. I’m not sure how comfortable I am sharing all the gadgets and settings that I’m using, but it has spurred me to write this post about a really neat service I just found out about.

Sample Gist Profile Page

I’m using Gist to keep track of my contacts these days. One of the most valuable aspects to Gist is its ability to track a variety of web content by  your contacts. This could include articles they write, blog posts, tweets, etc. All of these items appear in one place when you view a contact on Gist. This is particularly handy for keeping track of contacts with multiple online identities (*ahem* Thomas MacEntee).

Gist Dashboard Highlighting One Contact

You can connect Gist with Gmail, Outlook and Lotus Notes to keep track of the folks you email the most. You also can link it to your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts and it will start tracking your connections on those services too. In addition, you can upload a .csv file with contacts who may not be covered by the services above.

Gist Contacts Tagged with "genealogy"

The result when you are done is a one-stop shop for finding out what all your contacts are up to — from Tweets, to blogs to articles to Facebook posts. I’m going to start using it to keep track of the blogs I follow.

By connecting Gist with your email account, it also can help you track your current conversations with each contact. Alternatively, if you haven’t heard from someone in a while, you can look them up on Gist to see what you’ve missed.

I’ve set up two separate profiles on Gist — one for my genealogy business (to help me keep track of blogs and my clients) and one for my work at the University of Maryland (mainly to help me keep up with my press contacts).

You can customize how you view your contacts by tagging and rating them. Gist can store email addresses, phone numbers and multiple links associated with each contact.

You can create a public profile and then start connecting with other Gist members as well. I have not gotten this far yet, but assume it would lend yet another layer of depth to the amount of information this tool can offer to you.

There are several tutorials available on using Gist features. I recommend checking out the Gist blog and Twitter feed if you’re interested in learning more. You should read their privacy policy too, if you have concerns about giving access to your information.

Here’s my public profile on Gist: