Tuesday, October 5, 2021

In Defence of Rabbit Holes and BSOs

I was a bit offended last week when catching up on the posts from the weekly ANZAncestryTime Twitter chat. I got the feeling that some folk were dismissive of Rabbit Holes and Bright Shiny Objects (BSOs)

Bright Shiny Objects


In response to Question 4 on the chat "Q4: How do we avoid bright shiny objects (BSO's) when researching? " I responded " Why avoid BSO's? Most of the world's greatest discoveries came as a result of someone following a BSO or going down a rabbit hole. Let's not give in to #geneasnobbery and deride those whose goal is simply one of discovery and enlightenment." 

I know all that glitters is not gold but, if we avoid a proper examination of a BSO we may miss out on something of value.

Just this week a Bright Shiny Object (BSO)  in the form of an upgrade to the RootsMagic software has appeared. There has been much talk on social media about this particular BSO and its merits. Some people including renowned US genealogist Randy Seaver have spent hours exploring down the RootsMagic Rabbit Hole. I can see merit in following this BSO and spending time down that Rabbit Hole. We all have an option to avoid a BSO but, if it can potentially add to our knowledge or experience, we avoid BSOs at our peril.

Each week when Familysearch and other online providers share the news of their new resources (BSOs) I scan the lists for BSOs that interest me. If an item is shining brightly I may go burrowing immediately if I have time or I will list it for examination as soon as I have time. These BSOs and Rabbit Holes might just provide tool or clue I need the bust a long standing brickwall. After all we are regularly exhorted by experienced researchers to follow every clue, should we ignore those highlighted by BSOs and restrict ourselves to the dull and boring? I am joining Bugs Bunny and his mates by going down the Rabbit Holes that BSOs light up.

Let's go burrowing

During this recent Pandemic we have been inundated with many offerings of online learning activities, another form of BSO. I agree that we cannot go down every single rabbit hole and watch everything on offer and we need to apply some filters. But should we avoid these educational offerings (BSOs)?

I think of the great advances that have been made over the years particularly in the fields of science and technology. I realise that these have been made because those who made those important discoveries followed the BSOs of their day and spent much time down in exploration Rabbit Holes. 

BSOs are not something to be avoided, they should be examined with a critical eye and, if they appear relevant to our research, we must spend time down the rabbit holes they highlight.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

From the Archives - Into the 21st Century with SAG

In the ten years since I penned the post below I have hosted and presented several webinars in the Society of Australian Genealogists Education Program. 

From one session a month in 2011 the Society now hosts several sessions each week, some are presented on the GotoWebinar platform while many are now presented on Zoom which allows for easier interactive participation by attendees. 

For five years I have been a proud member of the SAG Education Committee which assists and advises the staff of the Society with program delivery and development. We regularly host international expert presenters from overseas which provide our members access to learn from geneastars without having to grab a passport and hop on a plane.  Recently the SAG opened up attendance at these sessions to non-members so genies anywhere in Australia and overseas can learn from home. 

Since the Covid19 pandemic hit in March 2020 all SAG events have been delivered online giving members in regional and remote areas opportunities to receive high quality education.  The popular Members' Hangouts during the pandemic have given members an opportunity to socialise and chat while absorbing online tips and shared stories from fellow researchers. I know more SAG members now than I ever did during my many years of membership.

You can access the SAG Education Program here on their website, https://www.sag.org.au/events.

Following is my report of the very first hangout in 2011. Thanks to Heather Garney and Martyn Killion for their vision in launching this impressive program.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Into the 21st Century with SAG

Thursday night, with Captain Heather Garnsey at the helm, I joined around 60 other members  of  SAG (The Society of Australian Genealogists) in SAG's first paid webinar for members. It is so good to see this organisation employing technology to reach out to members.

Thanks Heather for permission to post this image
Genealogists from a number of Australian States and rural and metropolitan areas in NSW joined Heather for the event. Instead of an hour's trip by car to get to SAG in the city I only had to spend a few minutes firing up the computer to get my fix of CGD. For members who live in rural areas getting to SAG for educational events is extremely difficult. Hopefully this initiative will snag a few new members for SAG.

I salute Heather on her competent management of the GoToWebinar software that is used for delivery. She did a great job drivng it while presenting her talk. As SAG are charging $10 for the webinar and, as they should be getting the software for a song (hope Aussie organisations get the great deals available to non-profit organisations in the US), perhaps they could afford to have another person online to support the presenter.

NSW Shipping Records Online was the topic for Heather's talk. Although introductory in nature I learnt a few new tricks from the talk that concentrated on online records at Ancestry.com.au and State Records of NSW.   Added to my todo list is to take a look at these records for the ancestors whose immigration details I found years ago - I should be able to find more details to flesh their profiles. After her formal presentation Heather responded to attendees questions.

Webinars are a wonderful way to present educational and information sessions via the web. I attend on average one per week, this week I have tuned into three. A list of webinars available to genealogists can be found at the Geneawebinars calendar. The SAG webinars are not listed on this site

Future SAG Webinars
It appears that SAG has at least one webinar a month scheduled for the future. Anyone is able to visit the SAG site to find details of these forthcoming educational offerings (scroll to bottom of page) but you will have to become a member to join in.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Science Mirroring the Traditional

It took me half a dozen attempts this morning to find my new DNA ethnicity estimates on the Ancestry app. I presume many other genies around the world were trying to access their results at the same time.

When I finally got the results I was rather pleased as they appear to reflect what I have found through traditional research. I have always thought that I am about 67% Irish so I'll take 65% - thanks @AncestryDNA.

As I am an only child I have no siblings with whom I can compare research but I'm lucky enough to have a double first cousin who shares my two sets of grandparents and all my ancestors going back in time. 

While the results from my cousin's test and mine are basically the same there are a few minor differences in the amount of Scottish and English estimates but the total of these is very close. My cousin additionally has a 1% Basque estimate, I feel that may be a furphy.


My Results
Cousin's Results



I've posted our results here so that, next year, when Ancestry issue their next round of ethnicity estimates I can easily retrieve what they offered 2021.

What did you discover?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Housework time at Geniaus.net

I remember somewhere, sometime saying that I intended to update my website GeniAus Family Site every month or so. It seems that my good intentions flew out the window. I just checked to see when I had last updated the site and it was back in February.

GeniAus Family Site

Ever since we went into our latest Covid lockdown a website update has been on my gunna list but I keep saying I'll do it tomorrow. During the lockdown I have been hatching, matching, and dispatching many ancestors.  I hadn't looked at some of my research from last century since last century and, in that period, many new records have come online and several elderly cousins have left this mortal earth. 

When I did my early research I was grateful to find one source for each event but I have learnt that is not enough. Events need to be corroborated by multiple sources of quality. Lockdown has given me time to go back, update records and seek new sources.

Each day I think I'll update the website now but then I say "I'll just check a few more records and upload tomorrow."  I could have gone on like this until Christmas. When I wanted to share a link to the record of a family member who had recently passed away I realised that I needed to upload a gedcom containing the death date of that person to make the record appear on the GeniAus Family website.  (Records of living people are not in the public domain on my site.) All of a sudden I had a pressing need for an immediate upload.

So today, 7 months since my last update, I have spent a few minutes exporting a gedcom from my Family Historian software and uploading it to my website ( TNG software hosted by Simply Hosting). If I had remembered where I had saved my login details for the site this should only take around five minutes! Sadly it took me much longer to retrieve those details. Once I was at the host's site I also made a full backup of my website that I will store on an external hard drive. 

A few statistics from the GeniAus Family site today.

I am constantly making edits and additions to my Family Historian database so I will try to remember a monthly website upload (reminder now in calendar). I wonder if I will manage.

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