Thursday, October 21, 2010

genealogy rant-blame the caveman

Maybe it is because I am not very techno savvy. I try to fake it but I possess no real modern gadget talent. Enough to make it through a day {barely} in 2010- yet not up to the standards of, say a Harvard or Yale student born way way after the 1960's!!!!
Maybe it is that I just need more to worry about. Who knows what the reason is for today's rant...
This is what is on my mind. I am a genealogist- a family tree maker, preserver of family facts- for the non-genealogist types out there.
What will future genealogists face when they try to piece together a family's history of important and not so important, yet no less interesting, pool of info and supporting documents? I say they will face a lot of deader than dead ends. I could save all my concerns and worrying and just assume that in the future no one will even care about family facts and history. Yeah, that's probably it. Too busy riding around in their flying cars. Shopping on the moon.

(Pictured at far left is my mom's sister, second from left is my mom, others are cousins. 1930's original photo that you can hold in your hand and touch in real life.)

Modern picture storage has become to some or most people, putting their new and even vintage snapshots on either a USB flash drive, CD, memory card or on an internet archive site.

Here is the impending potential problem for that...Flash drives, CD and memory card files can become corrupt and then are simply lost information. Gone into the nowhere zone. Forever. They can also become broken. Just broken. A memory card can even be vacuumed up [after all we do like our modern, super, suck-up-almost-anything, vacuum sweepers. "What was that noise I just heard? Humph, probably just a stray Lego again!"]

or lost inside the deep recesses under sofa cushions never to be found again.
Don't laugh! I once read an article about someone who did an experiment over a period of months. While doing his normal driving around he kept watch for sofas and chairs out at the curb. He stopped and, bravely without embarrassment, sliced open the upholstery with a utility knife. He found hundreds of dollars in both coins and paper money along with many other valuables such as jewelry and even flash drives and memory cards. Lots of the items found where simply under cushions or in the side deep recesses where most dare not reach into. I assure you he also wore gloves to protect himself and his health while doing these hunts. Amazing to consider overall.
Do you ever stop to think about the fact that it is super ultra cool to be able to hold thousands of photos on such a tiny piece of technology yet all those thousands of images can be lost just as easily?
Here's the other problem with photo technology and its future fate. What about the technology that reads these things becoming obsolete? I don't need to draw a picture of that implication to you , do I?

And the photo storage web sites? Well, they all have names and passwords and sign in info to help keep them protected yet that is the same thing that will keep your great grand-daughter/or son or great-great niece from seeing it. Understand? It will be of no use to the future members of your family after you are gone. Heck I can't even keep up with all my own ID #s, passwords, user names, etc, etc. - let alone make sure they are all left for future generations to find and use. And you are always supposed to keep changing them too, for security.
Security. Now there is still another problem. Long ago you did not have to worry about identity theft like these days. Info was readily available to genealogists. Nowadays we have to be so careful about every little detail and the safety of those details. I can say with much certainty that the generations to come will not be able to piece together a fully detailed family tree due to the plague, which is today, identity theft.

All info will be so well hidden and tucked away. Maybe only criminals and hackers will be the true genealogists of the future??!!!

Modern document storage. That subject will sound like the same rant here today on my blog...
We are encouraged to scan and keep digital files of documents instead of keeping actual papers, new and vintage. Purge the paper, we are told. The same problems occur as with photo saving technology.
Also, you can't display great-great grandma and grandpa's marriage certificate from 1896 on the wall in its original gold leaf frame or touch the linen paper of great- great aunt Pearl's nursing school diploma from 1902 when it is on a flash drive or CD. Yes I know, you will say, "You can just print them out on your handy dandy modern printer."
Sorry. Not the same!!!!! Just not the same. And if you think it is then you are a wannabe genealogist. Sorry.

Here is my conclusion. I am willing to admit I am probably in the small minority here with my crazy opinions. I am just saying that printed photos-modern and vintage- have their purpose and value in this world.
Paper (ephemera. see my side bar for definition!) has its purpose and value.

No modern convenience technology can ever replace that.

The worst roadblock I have ever had to overcome in researching genealogy facts is that of fire destroying records from back in the 1700's in a church in Germany. I can't blame that on technology...unless I blame the cavemen for discovering the the modern technology of fire.


Carol said...

Hi Amy!! I've missed stopping by here! Genealogy, eh? You'd probably LOVE the research I just did on our I had a little boy ghost living here whose grandfather owned the land our home is built on!! Interesting stuff.

Hope you're well and happy in your part of OHIO~

The Urban Chic said...

Amy, it's too late for me to start printing digital photos, but I think I will take the most precious to me and have them printed. It has always occured to me that floppy disk are no longer abled to be read, so they are gone forever.Why did I do that? Oh well, live and learn.Thanks for a great lessons in photo storage. Hugs, Pat

SarahZ said...

All very good words to the wise! You are so right about, really, the fragility of all the so-called modern options. Well spoken and well timed! Thank you!

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

Nice article! I consider our photos probably one of my most valuable possessions, and I know I need to do a better job keeping them all safe -- the printed kind and the "virtual" kind!

Loretta said...

A very interesting post indeed, Amy, and I AGREE with you 100%!!! I love to create albums with real photos. We just have to make sure we keep up with technology all the time, and never lag behind. It's part of the digital age!