Sex and the Genealogist

By | December 7, 2012

…or why documenting research is NOT sexy.

It’s a slow morning, so I decide to approach Evidentia as a user. Evidentia is the software product I developed to help genealogist follow the Genealogical Proof Standard and generate conclusions that they can stand by. BETA is almost complete, the product is stable, and I have a lot of data I want to enter. It has been a while since I shifted to “user mode”. My focus has been on fixing bugs and adding features that the volunteer BETA testers said they couldn’t live without. Cup of tea in hand I crank up my laptop and jump in…

(That sound you hear is the song of Gryllus assimilis, or the common black cricket.)

Wow I have a lot of data. 86 sources I already have citations for in Roots Magic. I have as many or more in digital files scattered on my laptop’s hard drive. Then there is the crap information on ancestry.com I need to verify.

Is my tea cup empty already? I wonder if Becky bought any cookies. Hey look, kitty’s come to play with Daddy!

This is the WRONG way to document research. It’s not the fault of Evidentia, or any other genealogy program for that matter. If people travel down THIS road, I will never sell more than 10 copies of Evidentia, and that INCLUDES the one Mom bought. My baby will be unappreciated. It will never have the chance to go to school, get married, have a family of its own!

REBOOT!

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I warm up my tea (there are no cookies). I nestle down with one of my favorite sources, “Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910”, from www.americanancestors.org. We are good friends, MVR and I, especially vol 481 p 105 line 73. MVR helped me to break through a MAJOR brick wall last year; and for my part – well I think I rescued him from obscurity, if lack of citations on the internet are any indication.

I zoom in on line 73…then zoom back out and open up Evidentia. I want to enter a citation first, get that over with, make sure its accurate while the material is right in front of me. The kitten rubs against my leg as I hit save, then return to my good friend, zooming back in on line 73. Oh look at that, my GG-GF was buried in Chelsea – I missed that last time we visited. I add an assertion for that fact in Evidentia. I’ll analyze it later, but at least I have it cataloged.

In fact, there is a LOT of good stuff on line 73 – even a reference to his parents. I begin to type, recording all sorts of interesting little tidbits. Ah, MVR vol 481 you have always been so giving. I hit save again, and Evidentia has all the information recorded. Later I’ll use Evidentia to compare these assertions with others I have collected. For now I tuck my friend back into his folder; then notice his cousin, volume 437. When was the last time we visited? Did I miss anything? I think my GGG-GF is in that one!

I record a new citation and warm up my tea, ready to nestle down with a new friend, MVR vol 437 p 637 line 15. A quick scratch behind the ears for kitty, and hit zoom once more.

I really wish Becky had bought cookies…