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.


Jackie van Bergen said...

I love BSOs and rabbit holes and am found frequently chasing or delving into one. I'm taking advantage of all the online workshops etc on offer, I'm making notes so I can revisit at a time when they are no longer so freely available. Keep up the burrowing!

Randy Seaver said...

I too love rabbit holes and BSOs because they provide fun and change. They also provide blog fodder. Or a bad example that we can learn from.

I'm not sure that installing and trying to get RootsMagic 8 to run right was a BSO. It was the opposite - drudgery, and still isn't fixed so that I can do everything I was doing in RM7. But now RM7 doesn't work with Ancestry!

GeniAus said...

Jackie and Randy- pleased I'm not alone. I think it sounds like RootsMagic was rather dull, Randy.

Anonymous said...

With the topic being about setting goals the last question was to bring out people’s views about research that is not always goal driven. While Q4 asked about how to avoid BSO and implying people should stick to working on goals most stated they liked BSOs. Just what I expected when I added this question to get people thinking about the other side of the coin - not having goals and what we love about BSOs.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I think we’re all agreed that BSOs can be fun and productive.
The question, in context of an overall discussion on “Research Goals” however, was directed at whether or not they contribute to a specific research goal we’ve set for ourselves. Stephen Covey calls this “putting first things first” so if I’m focused on a Scottish goal, chasing an Irish BSO is unlikely to help that.
The second part of Q4 was whether we set learning objectives as part of our goals. In my opinion, learning a new program or attending classes are skills/knowledge acquisition…what Covey calls “sharpening the saw”.
For those who’d like to read more about the night’s discussion on #ANZAncestryTime, you can read the summary here.

Jennifer Jones said...

I love BSO’s. Of course I do! But I also research strictly at times according to my goals. In the context of the entire discussion Q4 did bring up comments on how we love BSOs along with the necessity for focus at times. In my opinion there’s a time and place for both.

Tess said...

I too argue that BSOs and rabbit holes have their place in our work, especially as I've made many discoveries that way. Research plans are good too. There's no "one way" to do find our ancestors - all methods have merit. Thanks for the validation!

Crissouli said...

CONGRATULATIONS! Your blog has been included in

Thank you, Chris

Marian B. Wood said...

Absolutely agree with you! Some of my most fun genealogy experiences (and biggest breakthroughs) have come from following BSOs down rabbit holes. Glad to see you and so many others feel the same way.

Unknown said...

I keep a BSO list. Item goes on the list when I am focused on a specific goal and the BSO doesn't really help meet that goal. When I get frustrated with brick wall, then I pull out my BSO list and work on one of those. Several times, I found information that addressed one of my BSO questions when I wasn't looking for it!

GeniAus said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm so pleased that I was able to initiate some conversation on this topic.


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