Monday, November 07, 2011

Occupy Genealogy

Have we lost sight of what genealogy is all about? There is a movement to turn genealogy over to a select few with highly specialized skills. By making it a formal profession with strict requirements, testing, etc. they hope to give it credibility as well as allow the pros to make more money doing it. I don't think the founders of the movement meant to push the rest of us out but some are advocating just that. Will it happen? Not in my lifetime!!!

Back in the dark ages, before we had the internet, we had CompuServe and the Roots forum. In 1987 I was looking for a program to diagram my research into those pesky later Plantagenets who liked to all use the same first name. I knew I wanted pedigree charts and family group sheets, having been raised with genealogy, but I wanted my computer to do it. That's when I learned about PAF. Later members of the Roots forum would get involved in an experiment which resulted in The Master Genealogist, TMG for short. I began using that genealogy software when it was in beta [because I knew beta testers, not because I was one] and I used it until last year. It is a highly flexible but very complex program. I never did learn all its bells and whistles and I had regular problems. Eventually I decided I wanted to spend less time on the program and more time on genealogy. After a lot of agony and then research I switched programs.

Recently there was something I wanted to try but couldn't find enough information in the program's help file to do it. I posted on the program's user forum, a pretty active group. I got the answer but I also got some that distressed me. A received a couple private emails and one forum post suggested I should spent more time learning the finer points of the program so I wouldn't have to ask questions!

Yes, I know, what is a user forum for if not to ask questions. But it also seems to me that we should be able to expect a genealogy program that just works, keeps track of our information and then spits those pedigrees and family group sheets back at us on demand without requiring a degree in computer science. Apparently those three don't think so. Maybe genealogy software pros are coming next?

Let's "occupy" genealogy, from the comfort of our homes of course, and take it back for family researchers!



4 comments:

Bill West said...

Hear, hear Cheryl!

By the way, I don't know what genealogy program you use, but I use
RootsMagic 4 and the creartor of it, Bruce Buzbee, is on Facebook and has answered some questions folks have had personally.

Cheryl Rothwell said...

I have Legacy. I also have the trial version of Roots. I like their attitude but I think Legacy is more suited to my needs, at least at this point.

doris said...

I use Brother's Keeper. It is excellent and you can speak to the maker on the phone when you have questions. Check it out at bkwin.com

Cheryl Rothwell said...

I have five programs on my computer. The only one that doesn't get complicated beyond data entry is PAF, the original genealogy program, but that's because it is a basic program. It's free now. When I used it 25 years ago it was not. Gramps, the open source program, is also free.