This morning I attended the session on Information Overload with Elizabeth Shown Mills. This was a followup to yesterday’s session on working with family, friends, associates, and neighbors (FANs), with an emphasis on keeping track of all these people. This was another one for room 206, which holds somewhere around 600 people. I got there about a half-hour before the start of the session and there was a huge line of people waiting to get in, and the room was mostly full.
So when you go through the records for the person you are researching and gathering 15 FANs before and after, how do you keep track of all of them to do the logical correlation from one location to the next? The answer for now is more in process that technology. Current software is oriented toward the individual and the family but not for other associated people. Ms. Mills answer is based on building research reports as you go and tracking the FANs there. You also keep research notes, either in your genealogy database software or a word processor document, so that you can create a research notes report where you can see your work in one place.
Ms. Mills goes into a lot more detail on the processes and how to make them work. The steps in her process are more than most genealogists do, but the payback is well-organized data, which saves time, and a clear record of your reasoning and thoughts, which will also save time and help you and others see why you made your conclusions. It also puts your FAN information in one place to make it usable. This enables a whole new set of tools to find solutions to your genealogical problems.
So while Ms. Mills did not have a software answer for this process of of tracking your FANs, she definitely wants one, and made a plea to any software developers in the audience to come up with a solution. I’m hoping one was there and can do that.