Posts Tagged ‘FamilySearch Labs’

New FamilySearch: An Enormous Endeavor with Enormous Rewards

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

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Here at Genlighten, we’re working on ways to collaborate with the folks at FamilySearch so we can become “FamilySearch Certified.”.

With that thought in mind, I was intrigued to hear Russell M. Nelson, a member of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, discuss New FamilySearch (NFS) in an address entitled “Generations Linked In Love” at the Church’s 180th Annual General Conference today. Here are some excerpts from his remarks that got my attention:

“When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us,” Elder Nelson said. “We feel part of something greater than ourselves. Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple.”

“No matter your situation, you can make family history a part of your life right now,” Elder Nelson said.

The New FamilySearch system helps members find their ancestors, decide what ordinances to do and prepare the names for the temple. It’s accessible wherever the Internet is available and about 60,000 [family] history consultants serve throughout the world who can assist those who need help.

The new system reveals errors needing correction and members may be frustrated as they work through these challenges, but the Church understands these concerns. “The Church… is working diligently to assist you in solving these problems,” he said. “Together we are striving to organize the family tree for all of God’s children. This is an enormous endeavor with enormous rewards.”

I was gratified to see Elder Nelson acknowledge the frustration that some have experienced in using NFS. I don’t have access to any inside information on the process beyond the notifications I receive as a member of the FamilySearch Developers’ Network and what I read on the FamilySearch Labs blog. But I sense that the people behind NFS are indeed working very hard, and that “enormous endeavor” is a rather pleasant euphemism for what in reality is a ridiculously difficult programming and database administration task.

Follow Friday: FamilySearch Labs Blog

Friday, January 29th, 2010

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Like many genealogists, I’m anxious for the LDS Church to  open up New FamilySearch (or whatever it’s eventually going to be called) to a broader (i.e., non-LDS) audience. In the meantime, I’m eager to hear the latest from their development team: new features, new records collections, opportunities to get involved or give feedback… you get the idea.

An Inside Source

One place I can go to get this info is the FamilySearch Labs Blog. Here, various members of the group developing NFS cover the latest progress they’ve made. The most common post author is Senior Project Manager Dan Lawyer, but Grant Skousen and several others also contribute from time to time. They don’t post every day, and they don’t offer tons of specifics, but at least I can get a feel for the major milestones they’re hitting, even if the news is mostly after-the-fact.

A Thought-Provoking Post

One recent post that caught my attention was entitled Obstacles in the Genealogical Workflow by Dan. Though extremely low-key, I thought it hit on a crucial point that genealogy software needs to address but seldom does: recognizing the chaotic thought processes most researchers experience  and trying to tame them to allow greater productivity. Ideally, genealogy software wouldn’t just store records or offer them up for searching… it would accompany us on our genealogical journey and offer coaching, support, and encouragement at just the right times. Here’s the key workflow diagram’s from Dan’s post:

fslb_genealogical_workflow

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious why I liked this diagram: notice that box in the lower right corner. It indicates that gathering and searching for genealogical records involves three stages: tapping personal knowledge, mining online records, and finally, retrieving offline records. Naturally, we think Genlighten can become a huge help in the offline record retrieval stage of the genealogical workflow process.

Its Continuing Mission

I look forward to hearing about the NFS rollout to Southeast Asia, and about NFS’  eventual availability to those without a membership number and a confirmation date. Sure, the Ancestry Insider will probably be all over that news when it comes, but I suspect Dan and his team will offer a perspective on those accomplishments that won’t be available anywhere else. I encourage you to include their blog in your RSS feed subscription list.