02 January 2012

Open Geneological Research Vision

At its core, every sustained genealogical research effort turns into a global, loosely-connected, semi-structured distributed edits problem.

Open genealogical research needs a few conditions to thrive, I think.
  • significant stable corpus of research
  • everyone publishing under compatible open data licenses (CC-BY[-SA], CC0, or others)
  • agreed-upon standard data formats
  • ability to self-publish and curate your own research, independent of anyone else
  • ability to make corrections, and publish those corrections, independent of anyone else
  • ability to follow others' self-published research/corrections and pull it into your own research if you agree
  • mechanisms that encourage convergence of separate research efforts on the same research topics
Significant advances have been made in the last decade to enable certain aspects of online genealogical research.  The contributions of Ancestry and FamilySearch to providing indexed original records should not be underestimated.

The global family tree databases of Ancestry, Geni, FamilySearch, One Great Family, and others are also very significant.  The efforts of TNG and PHPgedview are especially significant in the control and latitude that they give to individual contributors in their efforts to self-publish.

However, online is not the same as open.  Open means more than just letting the general public search or get a login, it means that the dataset is licensed under an open license, and that this open licensing is adequately encouraged for subsequent contributions.

The ability for collaborative self-publishing is a primary concern that seems only partially implemented at this point in existing tools.

I have had this picture in my head for a while, and it seems the right time to start writing about it and doing something about it.

1 comment:

  1. John,

    Hoping to make it to RootsTech again. Your unconference session proposal is an important one. You are welcome to blog at webkin.blogspot.com, just let me know if you're interested. Cheers!