Genealogical Research Logs: Integration of Google Calendars

The class project for Digital Media before Spring Break was working on the Glessner House Museum website. While the copy of the site is good and updated, the visual representations need a Web 2.0 or 3.0 streamlining face lift. That said, for GHM3, the group inserted calendar and Google Maps functionality. Apps and embedded code structures are not hard in WSWYG editors. That said, the first commentator said that it was too light and the duplicate event calendar cluttered. No one else had a calendar, and it is easy enough to further streamline. That said, I thought about other applications of the calendar, and using WordPress to embed documents along with calendars and to inter-link between the two. That brought me to the inter-linked reference blog.

While there are literally thousands of genealogical blogs out there, I haven’t seen how they record their information. It’s as if no one thinks about how the person actually does the research, or the process. Sure, there are millions of databases on some heavy-hitting sites like A.com (Ancestry), Heritage Quest, FamilySearch, what have you. There are databases for keeping families together: RootsMagic, FamilyTreeMaker, Brother’s Keeper, the Master Genealogist, Legacy, Ancestral Quest, just to name a few.

Keeping track of how a person knows something is more self-conscious than this. The resource itself has to survive the inter-linking between the different databases, and as of this writing (I have not yet tried RootsMagic 5 but plan to do so soon) none of the database programs do the field justice. There’s no such thing as “one stop shopping” where the database is good enough for the necessary citation models and can keep track of the document by date, etc. There is at least one toolkit that is all about being an electronic filing cabinet. That’s great, but Windows already does that.

Maybe that’s needed for Macs, but I wouldn’t know in that regard. I am a late adopter of Mac basic technologies having had my last atrocious experience with them in 1998 while working on the high school literary magazine. The annual awards ceremony had most commonly heard phrases in the newsroom. “I HATE MACS!” came from me. Considering that Windows isn’t keeping up, I’ll have to look into them more closely, or else break down and buy a Chrome Book soon since I need something that’s more portable and lighter than my work laptop.

All of that said, I want to embed the Gmail Calendar into a Genealogical blog. Add the ability and necessity of uploading pictures of documents and then the text to explain said document. Although the second theory for that sentence is basically standard blogging with a separate application, the next part may make it a bit more complicated, and I’m sure that I’m not the first person to think about it. Adding the Google Calendar with a dynamic interface which GPS records where a person checked in for research: National Archives, Chicago, or the Newberry Library, for example. That needs to automatically be added to the research log aspect of this as also every document and which families apply to the given situation. This doesn’t look hard from the outset, and it seems completely obvious to anyone who uses research tools regularly. I want to find this in a program available today, but maybe it’s not there yet.

It will add to the phenomena idea of “Big Brother is Watching You” but when ISN’T “Big Brother” watching somewhere? A few years ago a news article focused on how that the average person is on a camera seven times a day. I hope not, because it is creepy, but the idea of someone wanting to mess with my business? Why would they? What sort of benefit would it give them? I agree with the tongue-in-cheek analysis of my old History 482 professor from undergrad who said that he almost wanted to get hacked. He definitely didn’t have enough cash for attracting a hacker, but the hacker could have his debt.

So there you have it. Make the research log into a virtual calendar with “check in” abilities to remember what repository you found what thing at, and then anything scanned goes there. I think that I may need to put a portable scanner on my Christmas list. Just something small that I can bring in a backpack or a smaller bag since backpacks are becoming less and less acceptable at repositories as the moral fabric of society erodes and shreds to nothingness. I can’t leave my backpack anywhere in Chicago without locking it. Never realized how valuable lockers were. Hated them in high school. I don’t use them in college. Potentially interested in a rolling backpack, though I’m also learning to literally carry a lighter load where I go. And I’m not into messenger bags for myself. They simply don’t work for me.

Best of luck to the beginning researcher. More basic family history blog posts to follow.

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