Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age--Dissemination

I have been working on my "Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age" lecture for the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I think it is coming together well. I'm going share it with you in the next week's posts. The first of our five digital archiving solutions is: Dissemination.

To fully discuss Dissemination I have to teach you my Library of Alexandria Rule for Genealogists.

At the time of Cleopatra the largest library in the world was in Alexandria, Egypt. It may have had hundreds of thousands of books, scrolls, codices and so on. It was a center for learning in the ancient world; scholars came from all over to study there, and many great discoveries were made. Discoveries such as:
  • Astronomy was documented enough to be able to sail by the stars
  • Longitude and Latitude
  • Calculating a year within 6 minutes of accuracy, establishment of a leap year.
  • Calculating the circumference of the earth within 1%.
  • The brain and nervous system work together
  • The heart pumps blood through the body
  • Archimedes screw, a handcranked device for lifting water
  • Foundations of Geometry and Trigonometry, the discovery of Pi. (Yeah, I personally could have lived without this last one :-)

According to legend, Caesar and PtolemyXII were fighting, and the people of Alexandria set fire to the ships in the harbor to break the blockade. The fire swept onto land and the library was burned. In modern times, we don’t know what was in that library and have nowhere near a hundred thousand volumes from that time period. All we have are the precious things, like religious texts, of which many copies were made.

So: The Library of Alexandria Rule for Genealogists is: THE MORE COPIES THERE IS OF SOMETHING THE MORE LIKELY IT IS TO SURVIVE.

So: against all your genealogist tendencies, you need to Share, Share, Share. Even if it isn't finished. Share with relatives, share with databases, share with libraries, historical societies. Then keep files in as many places as you can. Always have electronic and print copies. Never keep anything in only one format. And keep good notes of sources you have used and what you have done. These are road signs for the next generation.

Next: Refreshing/Back Up Systems, coming shortly...

1 comment:

Thomas MacEntee said...

Very good info Janet - being a techie and an IT guy, I am looking forward to the Backup chapter of this series of posts.