FamilySearch Pictures and Sources: Using the Facelift

Changes in FamilySearch’s user interface spawned new research efforts when sources transfer easily from software to social ware (FamilySearch) for accuracy and depth in ancestral research.

Little inspired me to try FamilySearch for research and posting outside of their LDS-specific uses in ages. As such, I did not keep up with changes until the last two months. Initially, the information I really wanted to review was on new.familysearch.org, After becoming spoiled by Ancestry.com’s instant abilities, I waited while FamilySearch brought their collections “up to code” with the monolith.

For any researcher, the sources are what turns cute family stories into real family history. Pictures (now ubiquitous and essential to Internet life) are easily uploaded and connected to ancestors. Instead of image-less names, dates, and places, uploaded pictures and stories make lives of the dead.

Any information taken out of context is easily misinterpreted, or misrepresented. Although reaching back to the past does not guarantee “accuracy in reporting,” meat on the bones (stories, pictures, and the daily stuff that is often relegated of being no importance to the person at the time) is important in sparking interest for the instant Internet and media-based generation, often a hundred or more years ahead of what someone once thought of as “boring.”

Outside of and including historical professorships, history is bigger and bigger business. Applied and marketable history is not a bad thing and teaches faster than monographs. While considered the standard for “serious” research, unless there is a connection to a direct past event, why read the monograph?

Adding applicable, accessible, and non-copyright restrictive photos and basic source materials gives a reason to review a historic monograph. Consider family history or genealogy as “front lines” history when trying to teach the subject.

Learning Digital Accessibility the Hard Way

Not all of my music is on iTunes. I actually still own CDs. Considering they are still sold, this is not a horrible thing. It’s probably worse, however, because in my last move I ended up getting rid of my CD player and my netbook doesn’t yet have a USB DVD/CD drive. Conundrums. The solution to either of these concerns would be my either buying the right drive for my computer and burning it all onto iTunes and getting back into “the modern era” or simply finding a CD-player. They can’t have gone the way of DVD-VCR players which are more expensive than regular DVD players.

I used some CDs to DJ a dinner via a laptop last week. Obviously, I’m not a professional DJ, and I don’t have a ton of music. I only buy CDs when I realize that I really like the majority of tracks on the album, and even then- I refuse to become a hipster. Knowing off labels and things of that sort is not that important to me. I like pop, I like radio, and I shop at Walmart when needed. Please don’t sue me.

After finishing the DJ-ing gig (I also organized the event and wow… a LOT of work with an incredibly helpful crew), but I simply brought the CDs home in a plastic Ziploc bag. Didn’t have time to put them away yet. They were next to my nightstand but on the floor. One false drop of a cell phone from on top of my scriptures on my nightstand, and *sadness* a CD that is currently only useful to keep birds away from clean window-doors. A nasty chip out of the CD rendered it completely useless.

This is not a CD that I bought, but one that was originally part of a collection and I am uncertain whether I can replace it. I am now missing Fresh Aire V by Mannheim Steamroller. I have the other Fresh Aire’s in that collection and grew up listening to them during homework besides other classical music, soundtracks, and mainly songs without lyrics when studying. Allowed me to supply my own words while reading and to numb/dumb out the music as background noise. Maybe that is part of why it’s been hard for me to get homework done in really quiet environments. I don’t need music, exactly. I need people around and background noise is fine. White noise puts me to sleep, but background noise helps depending on the level of sound involved.

I actually hadn’t listened to these CDs since my Mom died. The music that I listened to when I was growing up has a lot of memories attached. They’re not bad memories, but the fact that life will NEVER be like that again makes it hurt. Avoiding pain when possible sometimes, I own the CDs, but I do not play the music unless it is useful to someone else.

Having that CD break reminded me of the transitory nature of physical items. The past two years have seen an analog backlash to the digital “permanent/transitory” dialogue regarding accessibility and preservation. Both sides have reasons favoring them, and each have equal detractors. We want the best of both worlds, and sometimes it simply does not work out. Not everything lasts forever when it is made of elemental matter. Few things last more than a fleeting twitch or twinkle of the eyes. Anymore, the only things that have the bulwark and gumption to last are things that some people consider intangible. Or else their tangibility sometimes feels like a dream as so much in this life comes and goes without making a dent.

The real issue is the fragility of civilization and people afraid to lose it in the midst of extreme circumstances like perpetual war. I hope that I can find another copy of that CD, or I may break down and buy more stuff (erg!) and continue to try to move forward. It’s a nasty battle which wages for those with historical-technologically inclined minds.

I Am in Love with Vannevar Bush’s “As We Think”

Originally published in September 1945, this article outlines at the end of World War II a better option for the coalescing behaviors of scientific advancements for military technological progression. We have enough ways to kill each other. I am not a strict pacifist, but I can see much better and much less destructive ways of using technology other than the putrid battlefields in lands that need more harmony and less conflict. Instead of fighting, find better ways of increasing the food supply and making people self-reliant while keeping status.

Improving education is crucial and critical. Continuing education is of vital importance, and it is out of reach for most people. Education and class distinctions stratify themselves into spheres where intelligence restricts itself to bubble mentalities and monetary gains appear the only end for the successful scholar. This is not the end-result with all fields. However, the viewpoint where the greater fiscal ability one has, the more successful one is, is the result of a society based on a viewpoint where power and sway are commodities instead of a society based upon dignity and self-worth.

True education fulfills aims where character increases at the same time or within reach of knowledge. Knowledge without positive character is dangerous and deadly.

The aims of education are more easily realized when the information needed is accessible rapidly and reliably. Bush’s article postures that the fastest way of making many microfilm records (the current technology of the time, first invented in 1938) accessible was a full desk device called a Memex. He envisioned punch cards, Big Blue, programmers, I-Pads, data storage, Chrome, and other things needing realization in full productivity as the associative indexing possibilities are more keyword-searchable than OCR’d records and hyperlinks.

While I thought that the inventions of my childhood and young adulthood were miraculous circumstances by geniuses, they were actually old news realized. Bush was the genius. Inventors after him simply sought to catch up. It took sixty-seven years (an average entire lifetime) for his ideas to become realities. Other thoughts from the dreamers of the 1950’s (cars that can fly, kitchens that do everything for a user) are yet to materialize and are more likely located at Innoventions at Disneyland in the future than installed and practiced soon in typical households.

What I love about Bush is his ability of concrete conceptuality. Basing his ideas on 1945 technology, he saw a future that still has not become commonplace even as many of his ideas are now functional and are the basis of my historical technology studies.