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FGS Conference Keynote Address - Jay Verkler

At the 2005 FGS Conference Jay L. Verkler, the keynote speaker, addressed us about The Impact of Technological & Economical Factors on the Future of Genealogy. His lecture focused on different websites and technology currently available for genealogy research, as well as the different economic and volunteer efforts available. Ancestry is economically driven and FamilySearch is volunteer driven. He hopes that both economic and volunteer efforts will continue to grow. We need both for our genealogy capabilities to improve. He then said that, "As individuals and organizations, the impact of the choices we make in the next few years will have effects for decades to come." I thought his lecture was very interesting and a link to his presentation is found at FamilySearch.

The part of his presentation that isn't on his slide show at FamilySearch is a preview of what the Church is working towards for their website. The focus seems to be on Collaboration. As many of us know, there are loads of duplicate individuals and overlapping work on FamilySearch and Ancestry. There are "x" amount of names, but only "y" amount of individuals.

He then showed a preview of what I hope will soon be released to FamilySearch. He looked up a person's name and found 2 different entries and was able to edit the information by adding an "opinion" with sources and then the program deletes wrong information based on a lack of sources or a more definitive source. How many times have we seen the same person entered in 20 times with different birth dates? I've seen it many times and it's hard to know which date to believe. This collaboration effort will really help to eliminate that. We will also be able to merge duplicate individuals.

Mr. Verkler ended by saying this is what the future looks like for FamilySearch and hopes that other organizations, like Ancestry.com, will follow in the same direction. I hope they will too, because it sounds like a great improvement.

I talked to an employer of the Church trying to find out when this new version would be released allowing us to collaborate and merge, and his answer was sometime next year. I guess there is no definite release date yet, but I will be looking forward to it.

Mr. Verkler is currently responsible for the family history functions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He studied electrical engineering, computer science, and chemistry at MIT and Japanese and Asian studies at Harvard.

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