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Twigs & Trees with Rhonda: It's Almost Y2K
by Rhonda R. McClure

December 23, 1999
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Perhaps one of the best things that is about to take place is the fact that we will soon know just how awful Y2K will or won't be. After all, it is almost January 1st and we will find out how many computers are Y2K compliant and what services aren't.

Of course, we know that in the world of marketing and advertising everyone will soon have something else to talk about. For genealogists, once we get past this nasty Y2K thing on Saturday, we can look to the future to see what wonderful technological goodies are going to help us in the research of our ancestors.

The future looks bright for genealogists with all the technology that we now have available.

It's a Small World

It truly is a small world these days and getting smaller all the time. The Internet has offered us a way to communicate with the world. And best of all, we can do it in a matter of seconds.

Recently I was on a trip with some fellow researchers. We properly documented our trip with lots of pictures. Today, as I was writing this, one of my friends sent me a scanned image of one of the pictures from that trip. Such technology allows us to take photographs of tombstones and share them with cousins who are unable to visit those cemeteries. The scanned images also allow us to add the photos to web pages, to reach even more cousins.

Speed and More Speed

Over the years we have watched modem speeds constantly increase. In fact these days you will hear people bantering such terms as ISDN, DSL and Roadrunner around in place of baud speeds like we did in the old days.

What does this mean to genealogists? Well, as long as your computer can handle it and you have one of these faster connections, you will find moving on the Internet to be easier. Connections will be made faster. Web pages will display more quickly.

I suspect we will also see an increase in the number of graphics used by those who have fast connections. They may forget that others cannot load their pages so quickly, but intricate scripts and interactive sites will probably become the norm. We will also see family history pages that include not only pictures of ancestors, but also scanned images of records. Wouldn't it be wonderful to visit a web site and see great grandmother's birth record?

Databases Galore

Another major advantage for genealogists is the number of databases that are available and how quickly new ones are coming to pass. The best of both worlds is actually coming to pass. Great indexes are available and now the scanned images of those indexed resources are coming online as well. A search of GenealogyLibrary.com now offers an index of census records and then a way to view some of those online in digitized form.

The future will just continue to bring us more of these advantages. While it is still necessary to crank microfilm and visit courthouses and archives, it really is exciting to see how the computer technology is making many of the records we rely on every day available in digitized online avenues.

In Conclusion

For all the hoopla we have heard about Y2K over the past months, I think that the future truly is bright where technology is concerned. Even if we have a few bumps and bruises in the first couple of weeks of the new year, we will make it. We descend from hearty stock. Look at all that our ancestors have endured all over the world to get us to where we are now. I am sure that we are strong enough to carry forth. And as genealogists, we will continue to use the marvels of modern technology to bring to light the stories of those ancestors.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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