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Genealogical Collections Aggregator

Genealogical Collections Aggregator

I built it. The first layer of the Family Place Tracer (C) is done as far as working method. There are other layers that make a difference to the overall scope and vision of the project, but this is done. I have to finish the theoretical NEH grant request, but much of it is already written. Will investigate how to build more layers into this map, but this is the first look for now. We’ll see how far it goes.

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Feeling Like Jello

I once ate Jello with chopsticks at the MTC. It’s not the hardest thing to do if you slightly break up the blocks so that there is something there for the chopstick to hold to.

My life feels like Jello. I think that I am falling behind in my classes although they seem to be all that I ever do. And even as I write that, I know that I spent more time watching TV this semester than I ever have before, and also a lot of time looking through job ads. God said that I needed to keep up with school, but He never mentioned how I would get through my  bills and that’s caused me to be a nervous wreck for a few months.

Although actually less stressful somehow, I just moved this weekend to another location in the city, pretty far away from the things that most people act like are important but closer to companies, businesses, and actually closer to one school. The amenities are resoundingly better than my last apartment, and although the commute to one school is much longer than it used to be, I get to deal with that next semester.

Today I am supposed to register for classes at the closer school and I have no idea what to attempt to get into. I want to do markup language coding and learn more languages so that I can mark up the way that I want to mark up and do things that help my projects progress and be happy. Personal happiness is a luxury now, not a right. It’s that elusive thing that living commandments is supposed to get you, and sometimes it just takes an attitude adjustment to get toward.

Nothing in my life is simple. I wish that it was, but instead, I feel like I am walking on Jello. God walked on squishier stuff, but I am starting to wonder if my current state of being is simply an attribute like a mark up language. I have some stability, but at the same time everything else flows around me and ignores me. Goes right past me and maybe that is a good thing.

All that I can see is that I have to hold on and do what God’s already told me to do. To live the commandments, I’ve turned down some really hard temptations, and when others would not listen to Deity, have been pushed aside akin to Miyagi’s wax on-wax off method. Whatever the method or reasons, I’m here now and am trying to figure out what to do with this lifetime.

Afterlife is easy: help with the gospel, do the right thing, keep on going. Done. Just work hard, and do as well as possible. Seems simple enough. All that I see for this life now is finishing school, making family history apps, working on the genealogy business, and otherwise paying bills. I wish that I could have a family, but that is dependent on other’s agency of which I do not have control and would not ask for that control to be had by me. Without someone else’s choices, my progression is limited in this life. It seems harsh, but it isn’t. Not everyone has the chance to marry. I think/thought that I will have that chance, especially as I am still fairly young. I’m young, but I have the weight of kingdoms on my shoulders and they hurt a little. I’d give my life for a good, honest, temple-worthy guy to help share the load and for me to share his load.

No matter what, I must keep going. There is no vice without a price, and in this case, I have avoided much and hope to be able to endure a lot more. God has said often that He expects a lot of me, and I don’t really know exactly what that is or how to get it done. How long did it take the Brother of Jared to figure out that God touching small stones could make light for the barges when crossing oceans? I mean, that’s REALLY creative stuff. I’m not honestly that good. I have an app. One app, and it could easily change the world. I feel like I am behind in everything that I do, but maybe I’m stuck in the DNA-style loop that seems to befit the fullness of times.

I don’t know what God wants me to do now outside of unpacking. Do homework, look for and apply to everything under the sun including scholarships, and become exhausted on a regular basis. Trying  not to drown.

Best from the GenealogyDr

More thoughts on New Apps?-NUCMC Mobile

Since I plan to learn how to program apps for historical repositories to make the genealogical world an easier place to navigate for friends, relatives, and the rest of the world, I want to work on getting more thoughts down on paper. I make notes everywhere. Can’t stop writing if I wanted to, but they do not always make it here. Must write this down before it leaves my thought processes.

So, NUCMC exists. It’s this massive union catalog of manuscripts done by the Library of Congress.

  •       For anyone not heavily invested in libraries, a union catalog is how a bunch of libraries together (supposedly) try to save money by using one major catalog and adding entries as needed. Since supposedly no government entity has money anymore (and most libraries are the forgotten beneficiaries of Borders closure, hence making a lot of people try to return to libraries that lost funding and programs in the never-ending stream of budget cuts that come out when people lose interest in culture) then the union catalog supposedly helps people find their information faster. Once I had a teacher who was extremely upset about converting a library to a union catalog. I need to hear positive opinions about them before I can give a more-accurate conclusive judgement. So, consider the above paragraph biased due to that experience.

NUCMC is a manuscripts version of OCLC’s WorldCat. In the end, it’s all about finding the right piece of information as quickly as possible. I was wondering when it comes to NUCMC, is there an app for that? I know that is a trade marked catch-phrase from Apple, but really- IS there an app for that? I am investing my time and energy in learning more about how to make existing technology work easier. If something exists and it’s not incredibly easy to use and does not function on a level where it only takes a few taps, then it’s outdated already. Not as if everyone has the time or power to use such technology on a grand scale. That is not the point here. Accessibility, while a hot topic in any archive or library, along with a basic design, (advanced design principles) that clarify and streamline are the essentials to an effective group’s work.

History matters to the people who live it and somehow either loved it or hated it. And it also matters to the people who don’t know about it for themselves, meaning “Was this family story for real?” That is where the repositories come in. The places that physically host or hold the information must be open virtually, 24/7, while the staff go to bed, live, eat, take care of children’s runny noses, and have lives. They don’t have to operate staffed all the time, although this would be a little ideal for the world employment situation. Someone complains about money issues and then everyone curls up in virtual fetal positions or raise their hands and say no.

I can see when war is the only option to divest tyrants, and military actions tend make really great, detailed records, but it’s like no one has the ability to tell me where all of the money went. Congress has not passed a real budget in 3/4 years of the current presidency and runs on these strange executive orders. I’m sorry. I don’t elect kings. I elect a president and I can get them out. America feels more like a police state now than it did ten years ago. I am not a fan of the illusion of security over the reality of corruption in every level of government and spying on your own people because you are afraid of losing your power. That smacks of fear and lack of confidence in a huge degree. I mean, when you are done being president, you continue with your security detail, you have a huge paycheck, and if the spouse wants to, she can run for president, too. I mean, it seems incredibly silly to worry so hard over the power struggle. And no, it’s not a case of scarcity of resources. It’s a struggle against innovation to clean things up versus keeping costs low. Other countries figured out how to get away with much less oil consumption back in the 1970’s during the first oil crisis by using sugar and other plant-based fuels that Americans seem completely unaware of. No, it does not cost more to convert over. It costs lobbyists and politicians their dependence on the fuel profits from corn shares that literally change how all food grows in the US. I may not know a ton on this topic, but I do see inter-connected webs throughout. It’s a pain in the rear.

Back to the libraries and archives, there is need for NUCMC to be accessible by app if it is not already. When thinking about how historians actually work, it’s not just IN libraries and archives. We need as much portability as any other traveler. Most of my research time is on a day off from other things, or maybe on Saturdays. I research on the way to other places instead of that place being the only thing on the list. It’s the only way that I do not feel guilty for taking the time out to make my work happen. I have yet to be able to do a work trip specifically geared for simply research unless I plan it way in advance. I know of other professionals who actually do plan for research trips and spend their time in the libraries and archives akin to gold.

Due to the expenses involved, online record repositories like Ancestry are incredibly popular, and if I am correct, just passed the one billion mark for profits for good reason. Some of the basic records should be free, and it would be the ideal in the best of world for the whole thing to be, but that is not going to happen either in the current economy or any other. A market economy will not allow it. However, instead it comes down to enough people basically buying into the program to lessen the charge for everyone else.

A lot of apps are free or else people do not try them. I want to do things that are free and somehow make ends meet and get paid for it. I am too much of an idealist in that regard. Not sure how in the world it will work out, but I love the idea of flooding the earth with the ability to find what is necessary to get the research done. I am a romantic in this ideal, and I understand it. Going into academia unfortunately will not pay for it, but I also love teaching. Why is it that everything that I get a kick out of does not pay bills?

*sighs from the GenealogyDr*

Trying to Keep Up: THATCamp and AHA2012

Going to AHA this year is an experience that I’ll never forget. Grad school alone rocks my world, but being a (I guess now second-semester Masters student) it’s fun to see how people react to things. I am lucky that I have an ageless face. No one can tell my age, and my confidence levels are such that I’ve been asked if I’m a professor already once. That makes me grin. No one has a clue that I barely started the Masters, nevertheless the rest of it.
My brain may not be at the doctoral level, but treat me like I am a doctoral student and I work to keep up. These are not bad things. My historiographical knowledge is sparse. I admit that, but that’s mainly reading until your eyeballs fall out and not letting old ideas get to you in ways that compress new structures, terminology, and keep the field from progressing at a better rate. Irony is that I haven’t even had the intro course yet. Here’s to having to play with the kids that know their stuff from the get-go. I was not originally glad that there were doctoral students in my classes, but now I am more grateful than possible to express. I see parts/portions of how they think. That is the most important aspect for me. I need to know and act as they do.
My greatest treats so far are when I learn more and honestly feel my “brain being blown” when I see how history evolves as a profession, and when I can look at the exhibits and notice that THATCamp is THE camp to belong to. Digital history needs to plunge forward. Monographs are great, and there are at least a few dozen publishers out there. However, my programs require e-portfolios. Both of them do. Is this something that could get me tenure should I choose the doctoral path? It better, should it be necessary for providing in my cv. I am in love with writing, research, and I really want a chance for a TA-ship and at least try it out once. If I am to teach, I NEED to teach or to have some sort of experience teaching in true academia outside of under and graduate students in Sunday School classes for Family History at BYU where it was normal to whip together a multi-slide PowerPoint presentation in an hour earlier in the week because God was kind and the material was rather obvious to me from it being my major. I knew the theological constructs and doctrine. From there, the emotional met with the nuts and bolts, and life was good.  The Spirit taught. I followed course directions. This isn’t Sunday School, though the teaching style is similar. Considering attendance at the pedagogical courses offered mainly to TA’s. Wondering what you do with PhD’s outside of the Ivory Tower, especially as I don’t see myself teaching inside it. But honestly, I have no idea.
I noticed this article: http://aha2012.thatcamp.org/01/02/session-proposal-graduate-training-in-the-digital-humanities/ after going to AHA first day this year. THATCamp is current or future history-thinking. Although I still have no idea whether I want to do the doctorate, I am considering doctoral work in historical post-mortem thanatology even though I haven’t finished my second semester Masters yet. Instead of whining about long reading lists, I need to learn how to read faster and devour information at a rate that I haven’t done since I was a senior Family History major. I used to do 100 pages/hour on a good day. I didn’t absorb a ton of it, but I need to speed read, and I need the ability of doing it now. I don’t have a lot of time for reading, especially as I have a real day job and commute, and my ecclesiastical life is a higher priority in all senses of the phrase.
Being active LDS is not easy in grad school, and I am the first graduate student to talk to the Interfaith Ministry at one of my schools asking about graduate-level religious interaction. The interfaith people were a little surprised to have us on campus. Made me grin. I am maybe one of two LDS at each of my schools from what I understand. At one school, the other one that I know of is not in the same ward although in the same stake. He makes things easier for openness and candidacy, and that is good. People from my program gave us funny looks the one time that I opened up about Church scheduling needs with him there. Not flirting at all. Just having Church in common is an immediate bond if you are active, and especially if you’re the only ones at your school. It felt horribly lonely for the first while, but I was transitioning and it was tough. I resigned myself to differences too much when I first came out here. Finding commonalities makes things more fun. I am still out of the loop, but I’m trying harder to bridge gaps and to make friends in the programs. At my other school, she’s actually my visiting teacher. Not in any of the same classes, and I don’t actually know her particular emphasis, but I know that there is at least one person besides me who goes to that school. We shall see how it all goes.
I have NO idea how I survived last semester. I desperately need to go back and re-read those books before exams because by nature I am a slow reader, but I feel blessed that I cut through to the hearts of matters quickly. When you focus on main points consistently, life is better; more-focused, and with my last teacher I was lucky that he didn’t focus on the garbage of incidentals outside of how they assisted directly with the points that needed making in class discussion. Granted, sometimes I really like my tangential trips into sociological, economic, and political territories. Although my undergrad weeder courses were less-interesting, I do wish that I’d taken one poli sci course instead of relying on personal experience growing up in the DC area to merit the lexicon of political theory that now pervades my thought processes. However, learning more about focus is important and I need to work harder on that.
Considering the potential(?) PhD, it’s good to think ahead. Current research interests are: digital history and archives, historical post-mortem trauma in thanatological studies, family history and Mormon studies, in addition to history of computing/computers in history. I know these are rather varied, but they work for me. I’m having the time of my life now. Add app creation to the list, and this is a good summary of my future, maybe? I will try to develop this more as time wears on, especially as this does/doesn’t include my specific interests in Mid-Atlantic states family history research, medical, forensic, or immigration research, the book that I want to do that’s a social history including West Point, NY, my Memoir, and the history of digital family history article/book. There is much writing and researching to do.
I desperately want to minor in Comp Sci now. Not sure whether that is remotely possible as I didn’t have it as undergrad minor. Either way, I need to know how to make apps that deal with history with ethno-cartographic abilities. The University of Minnesota and the Roy Rosenzweig Center are doing things that blow my mind and I should have gone to their workshop instead of the Mountain Meadows Massacre session. They almost make me wish that I’d stayed at the home and gone to GMU, but I don’t think that I belong in DC. It’s a tech hotbed and yes, I am glad that I grew up there, but I’d rather work with them from arm’s length. Chicago has my interests and attention for now, and maybe I wouldn’t have made it into their program. I remember the first establishment of the Center and wondering what would happen to it in the future, and now it’s hot and doing things that makes us all drool. I really want to work with them, and a newer local Chicago history company called HistoryIT.
AHA has me learning new things literally faster than I can understand them, almost. Although I found the grad student reception and had my Sprite, I’m not good with small talk unless I know a person there or unless I have an “in” somewhere. That was not the case, so I decided not to use time awkwardly and went down to the Exhibit Booths by lovely accident of needing a printed program. The woman at the University of Minnesota tech booth probably thought that I had a few screws loose as I tried elucidating, and my mind began wrapping around concepts faster than my speech allowed extrapolation of what I wanted to do with the information. This stuff is hot metal, and the flow of it makes possible Web 3.0 convergence into 4.0. Maybe that’s going beyond borders of my current tech knowledge, and if the analogy is off, don’t sue me. But yes, I’m in love with digital tech. Speaking with a better friend from the department last semester, I learned that I absolutely adore talking history tech. I have to know more about it, and I have to manipulate data and play with it. I have things to do with it, and this semester is Digital Media. I REALLY hope that I get to play with some of this stuff, or even create it. Ah, l’amour. Flirtatious rush of digital technology used in ways that I need it to work for my future employment. Thinking about digital historical applications feels like thinking about kissing, but none of the parts of the relationship where one has no idea what the other person is thinking or times when you can’t read the other person. Easiest relationship to have is with one’s research? Maybe not. I wouldn’t know. I need to go to Iowa next year for THATCamp 2013. It’s not that far away geographically speaking. And since it will take me longer to finish both Masters than some people, I’ll be around for it as far as I can tell. Must keep up with the Twitter feeds on the topic as well.
I am in love with learning quickly, with learning everything I can as fast as I can, and I feel like I can’t drink it in quickly enough. I am behind when it comes to programming knowledge, but I need to catch up. I have to and can catch up. Just need to know where to go, what to do, and how to plunge on in. Wondering if it is possible to get the Comp Sci minor. Should have done it in undergrad. It is how history and the rest of life are all moving. I need to create the app and then test it out in alpha using my FB friends network. Ask and ye shall receive once it’s developed. I think that I need to talk to a relative who is a super-programmer and/or talk to the best guys in my department for this, IF they will respond. We’ll see how this goes.
Must get sleep before tomorrow morning’s tech session! And I noticed that there are exactly three papers that have anything to do with family history at this conference. And exactly one session on anything to do with traumatology or thanatology. Also met a really nice retired professor who taught at University of Puget Sound in Chinese history. She was great. Current experience is that professors are more likely to show interest in your topic than fellow students, and I could tell that this woman was incredibly smart. Wow, what a brain. And not in the Spock logic-no emotion. She was passionate about her topic, and I just wanted to smile because passion is infectious, beautiful, and possibly dangerous. But what a rush! In the meantime, *sigh* I feel like a step-cousin in my field. As concerns family history, here’s to breaking new ground with a pick axe!