Friday, January 22, 2010

Day One...Rain, a great turnout and Genealogy Utopia

I've arrived, have internet access and despite what Tim Sullivan said, I might already be in Genealogy Utopia.

Utopia for me means winning great genealogy stuff and Holly Hansen made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. All I have to do is fill out a crossword puzzle and I have a chance to win a new Acer notebook from Legacy.com. Also, an opportunity to win more grand prizes just by visiting booths I would go to anyway, I can win more things. Sounds like genealogical heaven to me.

The first speaker of the day, Tim Sullivan, CEO of ancestry.com took us back to the early days of genealogy to tell us "the marriage of technology and genealogical method is ripe..." little did we realize as he read this quote, it was written in 1985.

Suppose it is five years from now…where will we be? Now technology is going as fast as ever, even faster than when individuals in 1985 were looking forward to 1990.

Tim updated us on new trends in archival records preservation. All of the computers, scanners and digital cameras in the world are wonderful, but without the records preservation from archives such as National Archives, DAR, Library and Archieves Canada, we have nothing to research. These organizations are the recordkeepers and family historians of our times.

To demonstrate the high speed capability of saving information digitally, Ancestry.com brought planetary scanners here. He also shared pictures of Kirtas scanners made up of 2 high resolution cameras and sunction cups to flip pages of a book and scan 2400 pages per hour.
This device is obviously not intended for old, damaged or faded documents such as old census, water or mold damaged. But they developed the Ancestry Document Restoration camera which applies different kinds of light (ultraviolet light, infrared light, etc.) to get a better image of text. With this new equipment, ancestry.com will be able to add 251 names previously unreadable names to 1851 UK census.

We all know misspellings occur in any transcriptions or editing so ancestry.com also offers edit-ability to users. Has it been a success? Well, 900,000 user edits were made in last month.

On ancestry.com, 12 million family trees uploaded or created, 1.2 billion profiles added to family trees, 300 million records attached, 26 million photos uploaded. These are basically public records. How many personal records are there? Ancestry.com offers you the chance to scan your stuff here and now to add to the digital database. Could anyone have imagined it like this in 1985?

There a lot of social networks out there, however Ancestry.com collaborative networking has emerged as one of the great values of their service. This networks offers you the chance to connect with others who may have had the same great- great grandfather as you. Facinating, isnt' it?

Genealogy Utopia? Tim thinks we haven't reached it yet, and we are still striving for it. Perhaps we will be there in ten years at the Arizona Expo 2020…imagine where we will be. I can only tell you I am awfully impressed with where we are right now.

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