August 28, 2015

A Tip for Harnessing New Technologies for Genealogy

Lisa BYU Keynote

Photo courtesy of The Ancestry Insider

New technologies don’t stay new. They keep evolving. Here’s a tip for harnessing new and emerging technologies to advance family history research and stay connected with living relatives. 

Last week, I was at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy in Provo, Utah. What a friendly, welcoming group! (Be sure to check out the BYU Family History Library here.) All week, I taught sessions and gave a keynote address on various technologies that help our research. The week’s discussions reminded me how quickly technology moves–and how enthusiastically genealogists continue to embrace new opportunities given them by technology.

It’s part of my job to learn about these new technologies and pass the best ones–the “gems” along to you. But here’s a tip I shared during my keynote address that will help you focus on the technologies you care most about: Think about which tasks you want to accomplish with technology, rather than just learning genealogy-specific technology. Then keep up with developments in the technologies that accomplish those tasks.

For example, by now, many of us have used (or at least heard of) Google Translate. We can use it with foreign-language documents and to correspond with overseas relatives and archives. But Google Translate’s functionality keeps improving. “By the audible gasps of the audience” (during my keynote address) reported the FamilySearch blog, “most were not aware that the Google Translate app enables you to literally hold up your phone to the computer screen or typeset document, and it will translate foreign text on the fly for you—a must have free tool when dabbling in nonnative language content.”

Genealogists are really thinking about these issues. The Ancestry Insider blogged about my keynote talk, too, and my observation that genealogists haven’t been embracing digital video at the same speed at which they embrace other forms of digital media. In the comments section of that post Cathy added, “Now what we need to do is get FamilySearch to figure out a way to let us upload our URL YOUTube videos, not only for our deceased, but for our living….Our children and grandchildren don’t write letters, they email, text, instagram. They don’t write journals, they blog. They make videos of current history….We all need to look to the future and [learn] how to save the new technologies.” Cathy gets it!

A special thanks to conference organizers Stephen Young and John Best, who welcomed me and Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton all week long. They did a fantastic job of organizing a large event while retaining a warm, personal environment.

Continue reading about applying technology to your family history here.

Internet and Mobile Trends, and Rumors of the Next Mobile Gadget


When I published my book Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse (and tablets too!) some folks in the genealogy
community asked me if I really thought there were many family historians out there who would use an iPad or tablet.

My emphatic answer was “yes,” and as I travel and speak to live audiences around the U.S. and internationally they prove me right. It’s amazing how many tablets are carefully pulled out of bags and fired up when my presentations begin.

To put the increase in mobile device usage in perspective, check out this cool infographic on the mobile trends of 2012.

2012 Internet & Mobile Trends

Infographic courtesy of BackgroundCheck.org

Of particular note is the dominance of the iPad over the iPhone and iPod.  And while “iPhone” is a household term, Android smartphones far outsell them.

Bottom Line: Mobile is here and throwing its weight around.

And if genealogists have proven anything, it is that they are often leading the pack in using technology to accomplish their goals. (Tap into the newest genealogical tech at the upcoming RootsTech 2013 conference. Get more info here.)

And what can we look for in the future? Here’s an article about some rumors being whispered about the next big mobile gadget.  Shhhhhhhh….

 

New Premium Episode: Quick Tech Genealogy Gems!

Sometimes it feels like we are taking in new technology with a fire hose!  Things are moving fast, and it can be tough to weed through it all to find the family history gems.

That’s what my job is all about: taking it all in and distilling it down to gems you can use. And that’s what Genealogy Gems Premium Episode 93 is all about. This episode features select technology genealogy gems that you can use right away to have more success, and more fun!