Thursday, November 15, 2007

Computers in Family History

Wow, it has been a month since my last post. Since this is a new experience, it was fun to see that two people not only read it, but took the time to comment. Thanks.
I realize after two semesters of classes that my limit should be only one class a semester! I guess I want to push the envelope (really I want to get through school as soon as possible and get on with my career). Realizing this, it is unbelievable that I have opted to take 2 classes-CRAZY-every semester! I learn and experience a lot as a result of being involved and stretching my experience in the field but.... We have about a month to go and it takes a lot to stay on top. It all sounds so easy during class but at home.... Our instructor is a good backup when problems arise. He'd like us learn to be independent and shares what we can do for help but there is nothing like someone holding your hand as you enter new realms. This class I am taking has thrown me into the electronic age. I have loved my PC but now I need a laptop, too! I can do without it and have for years but I feel a need to report as I research and not try to catch up at home. The way I am doing it now means two different reportings and wasted time.
In this class we have evaluated (1) different genealogy software programs to find the one that supports what we think is most important, (2) he has encouraged us to learn and use MS Access to get into the historical aspect of genealogy. We can develop our own historical reports with our family participating in the study. It makes it more interesting to the reader, when their family is compared in relationship to peers to see how they fit in their community and the events going on in their world. Everything influences the decisions people make in their life and these would allow us to go beyond the names, dates, and places and but flesh on the bare bones. (3) We had visitors come in and share the concept of family reconstruction. Whole nations are considered in the projects and family groups created from the national records. People could then search the site with their family names and try to extend their pedigree or background information. (4) We considered Online communication and have learned how to set up blogs**, RSS Feeds, Google alerts, Wikis, Groups, Forums, Mailing lists, and social networking to enhance Family History and Genealogy. (5) We learned how to create a Websites and how to evaluate them. My next step is to try to set one up. With the templates available and free sites willing to be the server, it sounds all too easy. I need to have a site for myself and know how to make genealogy websites for my clients. (6) Last night we discussed the steps for taking oral histories (if we still have cassettes recorders, we can now convert the recording to digital so it can be archived in a form that will be used longer). We discovered the world of digital voice recorders; headphones with mics; Audacity/Wavepad; sites where you can post the podcast you have created and others can visit and listen to it; and the possibility of creating a movie by putting video and a voice recording together. In the next few weeks we will discuss digital image manipulation, creating famly history videos, different computer products like CDs, preparing our own PowerPoint presentation, and the importance of genealogy conferences and networking. This class has exposed me to areas that I wouldn't have taken the time to explore by myself and introduced me to products and sites that now have more appeal to me.
Last weekend I attended a conference and in one of the classes a fellow was sharing how he prepares to make onsite research trips. In his backback, he carries a laptop, digital SLR camera with regular and closeup lens, regular point and shoot digital camera, digital video camera (who wouldn't like to see the area that an ancestor lived, the church they may have attended, or perhaps old buildings), headset and mic, foreign/US power strips, extra rechargeable batteries and base, cables, PDA, and the list goes on. It sounds like this profession can be expensive for equipment. This fellow's wife feels they are all just "play things" but they produce a great variety of products and research aids to share with others. That is the basis of this business. Perhaps I need to get more involved and actually invest. Thanks, Lynn.

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