If you are reading this blog, you probably know about the new database being rolled out by the LDS church, "New FamilySearch." We have been in a unique position to observe the status of the database because Generation Maps is one of the 6 companies that the LDS church chose to partner with New FamilySearch as early affiliates. I have thoroughly appreciated and been impressed with the people we have worked with in the Family History Department. Their dedication to the project is really obvious on many levels. They have done an amazing job tackling a problem of universal proportions.
So, first of all, I am thrilled that it is rolling out, that they are actually getting it released. It is hard for large corporations to release something of that magnitude. Especially a corporation that feels much is at stake and doing it right is so important. At least being launched, it is there where it can be worked on and it can be improved on. If it was still being discussed in committee, we wouldn't be able to make any progress. Kudos to whoever decided to roll it out, ready or not.
Second, I have finally come around to the wiki idea that the database is based on. At first I was horrified. After the first day of meetings when we were brought in to Salt Lake to begin working on the API, I didn't sleep at all. Being a librarian, I tossed and turned thinking about what was going to happen to my clean research when I put it out into that "sandbox" for everyone to play in. But Dan Lawyer slowed me down when he pointed out that librarians had built the current system, in which too few are attracted to genealogy. It can be a dry and dusty process digging through the library and carefully writing footnotes. He is right. (I can say that because I thoroughly am a librarian). It needs to be brought into the next generation with social networking. I think with coming improvements on the database, where we can communicate and work in groups, that inviting people to come and work with us will work really well. As it stands right now, though, not the most knowledgeable person or the best researcher wins, but the person with the most time to invest. That can be two very different people. There are still research principles that need to be followed, but in the end, we will be doing better if we are talking to each other. That is a real truth and the LDS church did well to base the new database on that foundation.
I have yet to be convinced that together we will come to *the truth* or that there is *a truth* when it comes to history, but I am willing to withold judgement and wait and see. I know there are several topics on Wikipedia that I would write differently and they mostly have to do with topics that people are passionate about like family, values, and religion--hmmm. What will determine whether we come to truth or not, or whether or not truth can exist when we are dealing with history--can be found in part 2. To be continued...