Monday, October 03, 2011

Were your eyes bigger than your stomach?

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, 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.  



Laura Aanenson said...

Jenny, your trio of questions is perfect! Fantastic way to streamline the WANTS list into the CANS list. I am impressed! Thanks for the warm fuzzies btw, you are too kind.

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