Remember that old saying? I remember being told that after I had eaten about half of what was on my plate at dinner … and thinking to myself: “but I didn’t serve my plate!”
Well … this time I did, and I think I may have bitten off more than I could chew. It all started with some scanned photos from my vacation ………….
[insert Scooby-Doo wavy screen effects here]
In the beginning, there was Family Tree Maker. I had used FTM ever since I can remember, and back when I was a “name collector” (not to worry, I have learned the error of my ways!) I would find stuff on Ancestry.com, plug it into my little tree, and go merrily about my business. So yeah, I have 3,000 or so names in my FTM tree. Of course, I can only prove a small percentage of those relationships.
In the last year or so, I have become “enlightened” about citing my sources and all that. Well, the citations in FTM don’t play nicely with the way my brain works (citationally-challenged), so after I attended the Family History Expo in Atlanta last November, I purchased and started transferring all of my data over to RootsMagic 4. I am only transferring the people to whom I can prove a relationship, and adding sources and media to back it up. I’m up to 149 people in my database. It was running along so smoothly. Apparently, I thought I needed a challenge.
During my vacation I scanned a few hundred photos and newspaper articles that my grandmother had in scrapbooks and photo albums. In the process of trying to label and organize them all, I realized that I needed to completely re-do my digital filing system, and I needed to figure out the best way to do that. So last week as I was catching up on my blog reading and I came across a post from GeneaPopPop explaining how to use a wiki as a research tool. O.M.G. My mind was officially blown. It made perfect sense! I could update it as I went, I could access it from anywhere, and I could invite people to put their 2 cents in if I wanted! I. HAD. TO. HAVE. IT.
So I began researching wikis. Apparently, I’m not as tech-savvy as I thought. This was going to take some serious homework. In any case, I went ahead and downloaded demos from a few different wiki providers (TiddlyWiki, WikiMedia, and Wikispaces) just to play around and see what felt comfortable to me. I ultimately chose Wikispaces – mainly because it’s free up to 2GB, and since I have all of my media saved in the cloud already I can just point the wiki to the files I’ve already organized. Easy peasy, right?
I played around with it, trying to make a template for all of my people pages, adding people as I added information. (By the way … you have to upload media files to the wiki – you can’t just point your link to them. I already have 8GB worth of media, not including my new photos and articles. This is already costing me money!) Once I got up to about 6 pages, I thought … “what the heck am I doing?!!?” I remembered I already had a wiki on WikiTree! And I’ve already uploaded my GEDCOM and everything. Half the work is already done for me — and it’s FREE! I stopped working on my new wiki and decided to take a break. Something in my brain needed some rest apparently.
During our Success Team meeting on Saturday, Laura and I were talking about my forays into the world of wiki. Being supportive like only Laura can, she confirmed my decision that I don’t need another project to tackle right now and that I have other goals that need to be addressed first. She reminded me that I had just mentioned that I’m not getting as much of my own research done as I would like, and that at least one of my goals needed to reflect that desire. This is why I am so thankful for our weekly Success Team meetings – so I can bounce ideas off Laura and she can tell me whether it’s a smart idea … or just plain crazy! I’d never be able to stay on track without her.
I have canceled my new wiki. I am still working on a new filing system, but it’s one that involves digital folders in Dropbox. It will take a lot less time to create and maintain, so that is definitely a plus.
This episode has caused me to create a list of questions that I will ask myself the next time I think I need the “next big thing:”
1. Does it help me accomplish one of my goals?
2. Do I have the time to devote to it?
3. Will my research benefit from it?
If the answer to one of these questions is ‘no,’ then I will likely abandon whatever it is. In some cases, it might go on the “want” list, but probably near the bottom.
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