Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Light Bulbs Shine Over My Head

Early in February, I wrote up my Month 2 Do-Over homework assignments in two prior blogs. What happened after that? Well, my previously mentioned iffy help gave me several bad days, so most of the month I wasn't doing "real" genealogy. Instead I was playing in the Bright Shiny Object sandbox. I was also following posts in various of my Facebook genealogy groups. At least I was doing something about genealogy!

It turns out that I was doing much more than playing with BSOs. I was working on two related organization jobs; jobs that I considered necessary, but dull routine, NOT genealogy work. In Month 12 of the Genealogy Do-Over Workbook, there is a discussion about your genealogy heirs.

Back in 2015, when I was first working with these Do-Over concepts I discussed the heir problem with my two oldest children, who agreed to work together on my materials when the time comes that I can no longer work with my trees.

That's fine –– I have my heirs so I should get on with my research. Right? This past week as I was doing those organization jobs it occurred to me how wrong that attitude is! What I now have on my computer is the electronic equivalent of the unsorted boxes some of us have been lucky enough to receive from relatives. Lucky, because they are a potential treasure trove. But almost more trouble than help. Unsorted facts don't add up; they don't allow you to do organized work; since they are unorganized, the data is incomplete –– even though by some miracle every fact you need is included.

So this is Light Bulb #1. At my age of 89-1/2, my primary job is to organize my data so that my heirs know what I have; so they can follow my research trails; and so that they can find my materials and my conclusions. Research Logs will show my research trails; I have a good start on research logs.

But how do I describe my organization? Light Bulb #2: I have started an organization log that tracks my work with sources. Normalizing sources has moved from being dull routine, to being a focused task, complete with Logs that show what has been done and with Future Action plans (ToDo lists). This project is my gift to my heirs; they can now find any source attached to a particular person in my database(s) as far back in the database(s) as my reorganization has traveled. And this information is accompanied by a log which tells what I happened as I met with problems and made decisions.

Many of my previously created sources had media attached. I had already started to reorder the storage of my genealogy media. As I located the various source-connected media files, disconnected them from the sources, and placed them in a new filing system, I realized that Media work also needs a log. So I created that one.

I am currently comparing four genealogy programs: two programs that are native to my Mac and two Windows programs that run on my Mac using Crossover. When I determine which database(s) will become my main and subsidiary programs my media log and my sources log will help show how I made my decisions.

I'm sure I will need some additional organization logs as I work to present my heirs with facts they can build on.

So I am concentrating on the new organizations as my main tasks, my "real" genealogy. Does this mean that my trees will stop growing? I hope not. Whenever a task gets stymied –– whenever you cannot answer "What do I do next?" (or feel unable to write up any future actions), a good technique is to look at something else for a while. I will still be looking to complete work on individuals, to finding the answers to the unanswered questions that I have on that person.

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