Authors at Google: Dan Lynch, "Google Your Family Tree"


Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 02.04.2012

Transcript:
>>presenter: We're excited and honored to welcome Dan Lynch here at Google today; author
of Google Your Family Tree. Dan is a very experienced Google expert as well as
family historian. In his early days he was a vice president of marketing at
Ancestry.com and has been a professional genealogy consultant for many years. We're looking forward,
on April 2nd, to the 1940 census release in the United States and
Dan is the public spokesperson for the 1940census.com public consortium which
is a combination of a number of companies in the industry. And when we started the 20
percent effort at Google over a year ago, in family history, one of the first things
we did was pick up Dan's book and read it, and it's been a great resource
to us and through that we got in connection with Dan and he's been a valuable resource
in helping us in figuring out what to do and how to move forward. So we're happy
to have him here. I'm gonna turn it over to Dan.
>>Dan Lynch: Thank you. [applause]
>>Dan Lynch: So thank you, both Dave and Robert for hosting me today, but also thank everybody,
thank all the Googlers for creating the products which have certainly
saved me a lot of time and have saved millions, if not billions of family
historians an awful lot of time and effort in terms of connecting with the stuff that
we love and the stuff that we do. I will kind of, like some presentations, I'm
gonna throw a small disclaimer out in advance because we've had a few little
technical issues so if you see me kind of looking up, it's because I'm gonna look at
that monitor and not this one. Hopefully things are working the way I planned,
so if not, the show must go on. Just as I get started, and I know that
there's some folks who will be viewing this from remote locations, my understanding is
they're dialing in some capacities, so I won't be able to get kind of the full
show of hands, but, at least, for those that are here I'd like to kind of start
off with some questions that help me. So to jump right in, I'd like to get a quick show
of hands, how many genealogists do we have in the audience?
[pause]
>>audience member: What's a genealogist? [laughter]
>>Dan Lynch: Okay, that's good. Actually I'm glad that somebody just said that. They said,
"What's a genealogist?" But just by show of hands, if you view yourself as
a genealogist. So we have a couple, so that's good to know. That was a bit of a
set up question because my next questions, as you might guess; my questions are how many
of you have a collection of family photos in a box at home somewhere stashed
in a closet or under the bed or that type of thing? The next question, how many
of you have at least one family photo or document displayed somewhere in your home, apartment,
office? Okay. How many of you ever had a conversation, this is an interesting
one, how many of you ever had a conversation with one of your
grandparents about their parents or grandparents? Okay.
[Laughs] >>Dave Lynch: And how many of you have visited
a foreign country with ties to your ethnic roots? Okay. And then have you,
and then here's the last one, the real set up, how many of you have ever sat down at
any point in your life, grade school forward, and kind of sketched out anything
that kind of resembles maybe a family tree, or an attempt at a family tree? So
that's kind of as I had expected because the reality is, when you take the word genealogy
and throw it into the mix, the word is often misunderstood. So when I asked
the question how many genealogists are here there were only one or two hands.
Someone appropriately asked the question, "What's a genealogist?" But when I asked the
questions that talk about what it is that we kind of do in family history and the
types of things that are involved, there starts to be a lot of familiarity.
And so, suddenly, when you ask the question," How many people have kind of sketched out
and played around with a family tree?" Almost every hand went up to some degree.
I'm a big believer that, in some way shape or form, almost everybody's a
family historian. I try to stay away from using the term genealogist because it often,
I think, incorrectly suggests to people that genealogy is something that requires
an advanced degree, it's maybe more academic, it's maybe reserved only for
certain types of people that connect to royalty or something. The reality is we all have families.
And families have all sorts of, you know, wonderful stories, have
stories that people try to sanitize, maybe there's skeletons, there's all sorts
of things about people's family histories. And in my experience, in family history, I
grew up in New England, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are the three
places I've lived and I had certainly certain built in biases in terms of thinking
about family history and the history that kind of surrounded me as an American. I had
also made some assumptions incorrectly that this is how it is here, but
that genealogy is probably different everywhere. I've since had the
opportunity, as a result of what I do for a living, to talk to family historians and
present all over the world. And what's really interesting to me is family history
really doesn't change from one country to another. The content might change, how
it's stored may change, but the motivations behind it, in a lot of kind of what's behind
family history really is kind of the same, so it's very exciting. I only speak
English, and in some cases, not even very well, so most of my presentations
are in English speaking countries. But it's interesting for me, for instance, when I go
to Australia, and I've done quite a few presentations there, how common the experience
is for Australians doing family history research and Americans doing
research, little different perhaps in the UK just because of the histories of the country.
And so these are things that all, in some way shape or form, kind of all
tie together. This I've learned, this monitor will not help me at all. So I'm
just gonna look up there. [Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: So family historians and Google, so again, I'm gonna try to go out of my way
not to use the term genealogists but you could kind of put an equal sign between
them. We have an awful lot in common. We both love the internet, I say we
being Googlers and family historians, right? We're both trying to organize the world's
information, right? We're trying to do it kind of one family at a time; you guys
are on kind of a slightly different scale, thank you.
[Laughs] >>Dan Lynch: We all collect content, alright,
all of us. And for family historians it's kind of any type, right? The older
the better and the last thing is, as a family historian, we rarely throw anything away.
So we kind of always want to amass more and more and more. People who are true
family historians tend to have, you know, folders and binders and stuff in
boxes and just all sorts of things that they've collected over time. Now, those are ways that
we're the same. I think there's also ways that perhaps family historians
and Google are maybe a little bit different. Google has been indexing
content since 1998 and that's wonderful. As family historians, maybe, oops I skipped ahead.
Family history enthusiasts have been indexing content for centuries.
[laughter]
>>Dan Lynch: Okay, literally for centuries. And so there's just wonderful collections
out there from all sorts of, all different parts of the world that really,
when it comes down to it, really that kind of family history documents, family
history stories, family history artifacts that are kind of in museums and things and
archives. But certainly, as I talk with my own experience over the last, or I
say the American genealogy experience, over the last few hundred years it's
interesting to see the types of materials that get retained. Um, Google's pursuit of
data is worth billions, right? It's a business. But family history enthusiasts,
I like to say, our pursuit of what we're after is priceless. Okay, so these are
ways that maybe we're the same maybe we're different. Some of this is a little bit of
a set up. Now, lastly I say, search is your job and we, on behalf of all the family
historians out there, are very grateful. For us, search is our passion. And
what do we do? You think about all of the different hobbies that people use Google for,
right? Gardeners, scuba divers, whatever it is that people are interested
in. I'm a golfer, you know, there's a lot of other hobbies that I have. But when
I use the tools that you've created for my other hobbies, I kind of, I go to Google and
I do the quick query and I jump off and I learn whatever it is I learn and then
I'm away. I'm off on somebody's website. I'm doing whatever it is. For family
history the hobby is the search. And the more we find, the more we want to find. And so
what you've created is central to what it is we spend years, decades and sometimes
lifetimes doing. So it's been interesting, personally for me, to see how
the internet and Google in particular have truly transformed how family history work
is done. Just by way of quick, as Dave was giving a brief introduction, I have a
hard time saying this; especially since the cameras are rolling but I recently
turned 50 [Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: Hard to say, last week. And I got involved in family history when I was
a teenager, and it was maybe somewhat by accident, but in 1976 the country had the
bicentennial celebration and I kind of remember that, it was interesting to
me. Six or seven months later there was this little event that took place on television,
Alex Haley's Roots, eight nights in a row, in the tail end of January of 77'.
And at the time, there was only 3 channels to choose from, so if Mom and Dad and
my Grandmother who lived with us wanted to watch Roots, it looks like I was gonna watch
Roots too cause there was no internet. And in a lot of ways, I think about
that experience and that's really the spark, for me, of why I initially
became involved in family history and then certainly being in New England being surrounded
by a lot of history all the time. And so, the reason I share that is because
I had the opportunity, and I'm quite thankful, that I did not, when I
first got involved in family history it was not using computers and it was certainly not
the internet and certainly not even computers. It was going the libraries,
pulling rolls of micro films, going to archives, going to cemeteries, going to
town halls, pulling ledger books off the shelves, kind of going through them what I'll call
the old way. Had it not been for the understanding of the problems that
occur in record keeping and archiving and information storage and all those
types of things, I don't think I'd have actually have the knowledge or appreciation for what
the tools today have to offer for people who are just getting into family
history. So I think that was kind of fairly relevant. In terms of why I wrote
this particular book, I thought about what to share today, and I do a lot of presentations
about family history but most often, forget about most often, never is it
to a group of Googlers at your headquarters. I usually go on weekends of week
days to family history societies in different parts of the world, and I'm meeting with folks
who've come, you know a hundred, two hundred, three hundred people
who've come because they're involved in actively researching their family
history. Many of them are what I'll categorize, as age 65+. Few of them grew up with computers
as a core tool that they had at their disposal. And although the demographic
has shifted over time, which has been excited for me to see, you're seeing a
younger and younger mix coming into family history. So it's kind of neat when I go now
I see folks, well of course I've gotten older over time, there's people who
will come to these who are actually younger and are really interested. And it's
also been interesting kind of exchange of information that I've seen take place within
individual families. Where you have the older generation within the family who
has the family knowledge, you have the younger generation who has the technology
knowledge, the comfort level. They've just grown up with it. I look at my 16 and 18 year
old daughters who they just always had, like wasn't Google just always around
and wasn't the internet always there? And that's how they view it and that's
how they should view it. So when they know that they want to do a research project or
something for school they go and they type in a few words and they're off and running.
So it's been interesting to see that information exchanged and kind of
bringing the two generations together. Meaning, kind of grandparents and grandchildren it's
like, "I'll tell you about the family, you kind of tell me how this thing
works." So it's really a bridging of the generation gap and what's interesting
now as well is certainly the baby boomer generation. They have the time, they have the interest,
many of them, of course I'm at the tail end of the boomer but many
of them are retirement age now and are actively pursuing the things they had
intended on pursuing in retirement, family history is chief among them. So it's kind
of a great time. As far as the tools that you guys have created, there's almost
every tool that I could think of. I actually probably would have needed three
more slides. I kind of just picked a few. When you think about, and I don't know in
terms of all the folks that are here, what different projects are represented. My
guess is, almost every product, or project that you can mention within the
buildings somehow have relevance to family history work. And I have here just kind of
a list. Certainly web search, Google images, fantastic, maps and Google Earth are
just indispensable for family history. And I'm gonna show throughout the
course of the next thirty minutes or so, just different examples of how the tools have been
used and how they're kind of eye opening experiences for family historians
around the world. You know, Google video and YouTube, Google News and the News
Archive. The News Archive in many ways is far more valuable to family historians than
Google News is. Google Books, I got a couple fascinating slides on Google Books
and I think that was a great project when I first read about that some years back
about digitizing every book ever printed and we thought, "Good! When can you get that done?"
You know? Google Alerts, I'm amazed by how many people, certainly not in
the building, but when I do my talks I'm amazed at how many folks are still not
making use of Google Alerts. I usually ask for a show of hands and I see two or three
hands go up and then a year later I might go back to the same society and every
hand, as soon as you show folks what can be done with the tools, they all want
to use them immediately and they're wondering why they hadn't been using them. Google sites,
Blogger, the translate tool and the language tools are, these are all
interval, these are not just kind of occasionally I'll use them for family
history, all of these things tie so nicely together with one another for the types of
things we do every single day. So I'll kind of skip over some of the rest of
this stuff cause I know you guys can read this. Patent search, you may think
how? How does that tie in? Chances are every name in the patent, you know, they have a
mother, a father, a sister, brother, son daughter, I mean there's some amazing
things that can be learned from the content that's out there that you guys have
helped organize and collect for us. Now, I have a lot of fun with this when I go do these
talks and always talk about WWW and how it's critical for family history.
And then I usually pause and I ask the question to the genealogy enthusiasts in
the room, I say, "We're all familiar with WWW, right?" And usually it's a second or
two till the crowd says, "World Wide Web." And then I stop and kind of make a funny
face and I say, "Well, I guess so, but not really because I'm a family
historian. And I was a family historian before www was around." And so I remind folks, I
say, "The whole reason we have to type www before Google is it reminds you that
these are the three questions that you're trying to answer." Right, when you
go to the tool and fill in the box, think about who am I looking for? Where were they?
And when were they there? And usually, of course, it's tied to an event.
And I continue to make, kind of, a joke about that cause it's a really nice way
to remind people, "Hey, when I turn to this tool these are the questions." These are the
same questions that we were trying to answer twenty years ago with microfilm,
right? But this tool kind of lends itself perfectly to what we're doing. Oops,
sorry I skipped something. There. I've been using this particular image for at least ten
years, if not longer. This, to me, I try to get people to visualize what it is
that we do when turn to the internet and we turn to, I say we family historians
turn to Google and we're asking an awful lot. In the back of our mind, we have a person
we're trying to figure out one little thing for so we're asking a lot because
we expect Google to figure it out for us and just give it to us really
quick. But really, I try to get people to figure out what's behind it; it's the concept
of filtering. And again, people, I worked in the computer industry, Boolean is
kind of familiar to me. But if I'm sitting with folks that are in their 60's,
70's or 80's and I talk about Boolean Operators, well they're not gonna, you know, unless they
came from a specialized background, they're not gonna be familiar
with these terms. So what I try to do in very layman's terms is describe the
concept of filtering and why it's important. I show this image and I ask them to always
remember this throughout all my talks, is that, and you see it on TV all the
time. You know, you take a shovel full of dirt, you pour it into the screen
and you sift. And gradually the things that, an archeologist is not interested, gradually
the kind of, you know, the irrelevant matter falls to the ground and
what's gradually left is some kind of nugget. And in this particular instance it's
a piece of pottery or something and some expert could tell you what it is and when it was
carved and who carved it. Family historians do the same thing, but what we
look for, we spend, you know, years in some cases looking for things that look
like this. This happens to be a passengers list. It's got somewhere on there, Domenico
De Tota was my, it's a good ethnic Irish name, right? Domenico De Tota. Half
Irish half Italian. And so on the Italian side, you know, they came to the United
States. It took me an awful lot of time to find this passenger arrival record because
the records weren't digitized, they weren't transcribed. You had to crank through
a lot of microfilm. Now things are done a little bit differently. But we will
spend, we family historians, will spend years looking for things just like this. Because
when I find the passenger list, often there will be other information that
gives me a clue. Who was he traveling with? Where was he going? So it's worth
the chase. The thrill of the chase, it's worth it to get to it to find out what other clues
lie that kind of point us in another direction. The Google homepage, you
guys are pretty familiar with this. [Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: So I show this and I always remind people because I know the question's gonna
come up and I'd say about half the time they ask it before I get to it, and
they say, "What's that do I feel lucky thing?" and I say, "First of all you're
a genealogist so don't click it because you're not that lucky." But I explain to me, of course,
what it is so they know what you guys are creating and how and why
etcetera. But the reason I'm purposely mentioning here is as family historians
really the worst thing we can do, the worst thing that you guys can probably do is have
someone rely on something like that because many time in family history it's the
accidental discovery that becomes the most important one for us. And so we
need to see many results. We need to see options. We need to see and view and evaluate in a
different fashion than what I'll call a lot of users, because, again,
I'll go back to my comment earlier, search is our hobby. And search is core to
what we do, all over the world and we're searching. So, you know, on that random chance that someone
clicks that do I feel lucky and actually does get something that's
highly relevant, fantastic! I've never had the experience. Not for genealogy.
If I wanted to know Abraham Lincoln's birthday I could probably get it real quick. I probably
don't even have to click anymore. Let's see where, now, this is a fake
screen by the way. Luckily for me I play with Photoshop all the time. Really
in the back of a lot of family historian's minds, they maybe don't admit it, but that's
kind of what they're looking for. They wanna go to the Google search box, type
in a couple of words that are character strings, right, to you guys, but to us
there's emotions, there's family connection, there's the concept of the brick wall they've
been searching for, for 20 years or something, they wanna type in a name and
get right to this; the tree that kind of builds out and this is it and I wanna
find those five, six generations. And I say that a little bit tongue-in-cheek because
the reality is; many family historians truly do enjoy the search. If you offered, I'd be
willing to bet if you were to go to a genealogy conference or a meeting or
something and offered many people the opportunity of, " I can tell you, your, about your Great
Grandmother. Matter of fact I have a chart right here, would you like to
see it?" Half of them would probably say yes, half would say no cause half would
be like, "You know, I wanna be the one to find it. I wanna be the one to discover it.
I've been looking for too long for you to just hand it to me." And then if you
did hand it to them, they'd be looking at it like, "Well, how do I know this
is right?" So there's a lot of interesting things about the research that we do. And
another thing about family history, I try to mention this a little bit I think,
is we often don't know what we're searching for. We won't know the name. We won't
necessarily know the exact location. We've heard, in some cases, very vague stories that
have either intentionally been kind of sanitized or accidentally just over
time and memory fade and its third or fourth generation of the story. So in
family history there's this adage that says, "Don't dismiss whatever family legend exists."
And every family's got their stories. Whatever story that's out there,
don't dismiss whatever you hear. Hear it. Try to objectively listen to it. Try to
record it and write it down. Then start your research because there's generally a scrap
of truth to some element of the story. So you don't know where the piece of
truth is and gradually you can find them. I have a couple of examples of some
that are more entertaining. And they're all true by the way. None of these are made up.
And so, I've already mentioned that the accidental discoveries are the most exciting.
So what I'm gonna do, I think the next slide, I'm gonna jump in and show
how I typically at some of these sessions, the tools that you folks take for granted
because you've created them, how we are using them in ways that are truly eye
opening for a lot of folks. Okay, I've picked five. Typically this is the,
depending on the types of presentations that I have, if it's an all day workshop I'll do
four presentations in a day, each ones about an hour and fifteen hour and twenty
minutes long, I always will start with this one. And I talk about, what I
call, search essentials. And at the beginning of the presentation I'll ask a couple show
of hands questions and I'll say, "My goal for the session is to make sure that
everybody that leaves today is an expert in using Google. Not just okay, but
you're an expert." And I always see the looks of stunned like, "Is he for real?" You know?
[Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: And then I tell them that the reason that I know they can be experts is
because this stuff is easy, it's there, it works every time and then I step
through and show the examples. And it's an awful lot of fun, after the fact, to
get comments, phone calls, and emails from people with just bizarre discoveries. It's
gotten, even more so now, because there be people who will actually be sitting
there with a laptop or an iPad in the talk and I've had people, even last
month when I was in Utah doing a presentation, literally jump out of their seat and wanna
tell everyone in the room, "Look!" You know, what they've just found.
So it's kind of an exciting thing for folks. So I talk about these particular
five commands. So let me just describe how it is that we use them for family history
in particular, alright? Now, I start of pretty simple and say, "Now, for us, we
don't want to immediately" First, I try to remind people, every query does not
have to have multiple words and special syntax and special commands, right? I'd say get that
out of your mind. But I like to expose them to them and I like to explain
which ones are perfectly suited for family history so when the need arises
they understand them, they're familiar and they can put them to use when they need it.
And by better understanding them I think it makes them better searchers. It kind
of, asks better questions to get better results. The first one that I simply
talk about and I do a little talking about key words and stop words and some other things,
you know, case sensitivity etcetera and then I get to the very first
filter. So we're past the point that single word key queries are gonna get, what
I'll call, meaningful results anymore because in my case the last name is Lynch. If I type
in Lynch into Google, of course I'm gonna get, you know, there's certainly
gonna be at least two commas in the answer. And I found them really fast and
that's great but if I'm in my kind of family history mode, the relevance of those top ten,
top twenty, top thirty are probably not gonna be all that great unless,
you know, I truly am just extraordinarily lucky on that given day. What I can
immediately do is my first filter that I can train people to learn and to use is the similar
words or similar terms feature with the tilde and to place the word, the
tilde directly in front of the world genealogy because it will ask, "Please, in
this immense index that you guys have amassed for us, can you please return only the pages
that mention my surname that I'm researching, and also that mention genealogy
or words with similar meanings to genealogy." And what that will
immediately do is, kind of; filter out all the other stuff. You know that picture I showed
with all the dirt and the sifter, the little screen? All the stuffs
that irrelevant will fall to the ground and the only thing that's gonna be left
on the screen is the pages that really matter because they've got all the right words on
the page. And my technique for figuring out what your similar terms were,
I'll kind of get to a bit later. But this is an important, and there's about
five or six phrases that I will often recommend in conjunction with the tilde because it calls
out and filters out just the kind of things that we, as family historians,
want to see. The "or" commands, again, second nature to you guys, but for
many family historians it's like you would have thought I created it. I mean, I just
sit there and there's many, many, many cases in family history where there's either
variant spellings of surnames, and I'm sure in this very room many of you
could either, your own name or a surname in your family where there's two spellings that
are very common. You have that use for the or, you have family stories where
people are quite sure, "I think they came to the Port of Boston." Or other
people say New York or other people say Philadelphia. And so there's plenty of times we can use
the or command as a conditional operator to allow multiple conditions
as were kind of filtering through but we still want to get at some other
data. The minus sign, again, the www piece is so important to us. We often are looking
for "who" right? And then there's a "where" component tied to some place in the
world. But often place names are repetitive here and there. And in my case, of
course, Waterbury, Connecticut, as luck has it there's also a Lynch family, a Patrick
Lynch family in Waterbury, Vermont. And there's a lot of stuff up there. The only
thing from Waterbury, Vermont that I'm interested in is Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
So I do the minus symbol when I do my queries, and its second nature to me now. If I'm doing
it, I just kind of automatically will if I'm typing, as soon
as I type in Waterbury it's almost always I type in minus Vermont. And there's
other ways I could get at this but this is my way of showing how these simple commands
can become power tools. Alright, quotations for, kind of exact phrase matching,
this one becomes important as well. Family history data is being put online
at an amazing rate. There are individuals, there are commercial organizations, there
are non profit entities, there are Boy Scout troops that are going around through
cemeteries and writing down names on headstones so they can earn a merit badge,
I mean there are so many exciting things happening right now. And as the names get transcribed
they get transcribed like if it shows up on a passenger list, many times
passenger lists or census records will have the surname listed before the
given name. So instead of Patrick Lynch it'll have Lynch, Patrick. So it's great if I do
an exact phrase match, Patrick Lynch. It'll skip right over Lynch, Patrick,
unless I, of course, ask for different things in different ways. And
thankfully you guys have other solutions for that but, again, my job when I go to these
sessions is to train people how do some of these things work and remember what
you're asking for. If you're asking for an exact phrase match, you're gonna get
an exact phrase match. So sometimes it's good to ask, sometimes it's not. This one someone
might have to correct me and I'm in the right place to ask this question and
I think this has changed a little bit over time. The asterisk used to work
inside quotes only and now, of course, the asterisk you can kind of get away with it
in other cases where you can just simply type in either portions of a query
and the asterisk will kind of take place of what's in between it. I'm gonna kind
of skip over this and then wait till the end because I think I might have a question for
you guys on that one. But the ability to do wildcards sometimes becomes
important in family history. Now, here's the query, the series of queries kind of
in action. Again, not new to you in terms of what they do, but in terms of how we're
using them, perhaps. So family history throughout the world, all of us are kind of
looking for, you know, "Where was my Grandfather? He lived here. etcetera,
etcetera ." And so, what I kind of try to train people to do is to think, kind of start
broad and work your way and refine. I don't wanna see, I would be frustrated,
personally, and felt like I had not done my job, if I went and saw someone after
the session and I saw them all thinking that this is what they have to do because many
times they don't. But depending on the surname, especially some surnames are
difficult. I mean, you have names for instance like, um, William Gregory.
That's someone's name I know. Well that's two first names. You have someone who's last
name might have another meaning; the name like Ford or White. Well if you're gonna
do a search for "Ford" you're gonna get an awful lot on cars. You're gonna do
"White" you're gonna get color. I mean, there's all sorts of words that have multiple meanings.
How do we figure out just what we're after? Sometimes we have to employ
certain techniques, sometimes we don't. So what I try to show is, stepping
from the top down, is kind of how you can gradually, within a matter of seconds as you
know, just do a query, look at the number. Refine and filter, refine and filter,
refine and look to see where it is getting. To the point that we get,
ultimately, somewhere down here. Genealogists, I'm not looking for just one or two, I'm looking
for maybe 25 to 100 because then what do I wanna do?
[Rubbing hands together]
>>Dan Lynch: Then I wanna sit down and look at web pages and I wanna see, "Why is it that
these things are coming up?" If I got 27 results here and it matches all this
criteria for relevance I wanna read every one. I'm gonna visit every single one
of these websites. Why? Because they mention someone named Patrick Lynch, who I know to
be a potential relative of mine, they're genealogy pages, they mention Waterbury
but they don't mention Vermont, they somehow mention a date range of 1850-
1930, I mean, it's pretty relevant to what I'm doing. And I've, kind of gone from the
whole web to 27 pages. I'll take the time to look at the 27 pages. Now, what's
frustrating for someone like me, because I've been doing it for so long is 25 of
those pages; I probably put on the internet. [Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: The other two are probably somebody visited, took my content and then republished,
you know? But that's okay because then I actually just say minus Lynchonline.com
and I remove my own website and I'm left with the two unique
websites. So there's ways to get at everything. Now, the other thing I'd kind of like to share
is there's this mindset, of course, there's this thought, you know, that
family history and genealogists like old stuff and much of it is, but you
know, family history is, I like to say, family history is happening every day; it's made
every day. I was reminded of this, in particular, when I was going through, getting
ready some of the slides and I was looking for one particular image and I
kind of laughed when I saw this little scan in the upper right hand corner of your screen
there, and my daughter who is now a freshman in college drew this some years
ago and I was like, "Wow! That's family history now." No longer is it that cute
little thing I scanned and saved, you know? Another great photograph in the left there
of my same daughter, my older daughter, walking along with a great uncle
of mine, who was 93 when he passed away. And you look at that picture and one
can only wonder what is it the two of them are talking about? I mean, this is family
history. So it's maybe not the kind of thing that you're gonna find online. We'll
never know what they were talking about online but there's a lot of neat things
that we come across in family history. Now, I talked about the www before. Often times
it's "who". But many times there's little scraps of information that we have,
you know, and I'm often tempted to do show of hands but I won't here, I remember
distinctly growing up with m Grandmother living in the house. I remember the word "campobasso",
the word. I didn't really even know what a "campobasso" was. I didn't
necessarily know if it was a place or whatever, I mean, it was just a word I
heard. And when I began doing my research, I began to try to figure out, "What is this
place?" And now, of course, it's ease on the internet and you see or hear a
place name and you go to Google and you start typing it in and Google kind of
comes up and gives you this wonderful selection of things and images etcetera. This is very
common in family history that, especially as Americans or Australians, we're
kind of countries of immigrants and gradually the populations, which are very
diverse, you know, we come from everywhere else. So it's a matter of chasing down all
the clues and figuring out, you know, how do we connect the dots. Now, what's interesting
about something like these queries and I'm gonna get into some examples
to show how we everyday are using these tools to do very basic things that have a profound
impact on our collection of information. I type in something like Campobasso,
which I now know to be a place name in Southern Italy. And what's good
is, of course, Google brings me to Google, on the left hand nav, of course I can start
quickly filtering through and using options. What's interesting is how the tools
work interchangeably with each other. So I type in Campobasso, Google
recognizes it, I click on images and there's often an awful lot of images. I might have
to take my glasses off to see this one. It found 3 million plus results. But
if I click over to Google images in particular, I might say, "You know, I'm not
interested in just any image from Campobasso, maybe right now I'm looking for pictures of
the cemetery or pictures of a church." And so I type in the word "cemetery"
or "church" and I get a little bit more refined. And I drop down to 30 thousand
results. What I've found is if I'm looking for pictures of a cemetery and church from
Campobasso Italy, it's probably more useful to ask using the Italian words for
cemetery and church. And I routinely and I only speak English, so I routinely
will flip over and just do real quick translations. Sometimes it's of whole documents. Sometimes
it's of a sentence. Sometimes it's an email. Sometimes it's a
single word or two. And then I go back and re execute the query. And, of course,
I've since, I kind of keep on hand a list of the words that over time I can remember
some of them. But I have a list of words in Italian with the corresponding English
word. And I'll turn around and I'll execute the same query and I'll ask
Google, "Give me Campobasso, chiesa or cimitero." Anybody speak Italian? How bad did I do with
the pronunciation? I don't know. But what happens is I get ten times
as many results, relevant images and I can look and often times it's a much
richer mix and a more interesting selection of images than I would get if I just used
the English version. And chances are real good that they're also coming from Italian
websites. Okay, and there's a lot of other things that end up happening as
a result of this. This truly did happen, okay? I did a query and I was simply looking for
a picture of a church. And I really didn't even care which church at this
point. I wanted a church from Campobasso for something I was working on. And I
noticed that the first image that was there it gives a little description. And I saw it
said "Chiesa San Giovanni Battista" and I thought how do I know that phrase? How
do I, that rings a bell to me. I switched over, I went to my pedigree chart in
my genealogy software and I went to the Italian half of the family and suddenly I look and
I see there's this individual right here named Giovanni Battista Orsatti
in my family tree. And then I picked up the phone cause people like genealogists
still use these other devices. I picked up the phone and called an 88-year-old aunt,
great aunt, who's in Florida and I had her talk to me about her, in this case,
her uncle John. And Giovanni Battista, he took his name, he of course that's
where his family was from and he was named for the patron saint of this area; Giovanni
Battista, and that's where they got the name from. So there's a lot of things
you kind of learn these are some of the small accidental discoveries and how they
tie together. How, who would have ever thought, I certainly wouldn't of thought I was gonna
find that necessarily through Google image search. But just in a small description
it triggers a thing and I can actually go back now and kind of tie
some more specifics of this family to that church. I've since actually gotten copies
of the baptism records for this individual from the church too, which is fun.
And some of that stuff is still got the old fashioned way. You write letters.
I send emails, I get a, I write an email in English, I use Google translate to translate
it into Italian, I send it to somebody over there who will go physically
pull the record, scan it and send it to me. I mean, there's a lot of other,
there's this other thing that I shared too, in genealogy, and genealogists like to share
with one another all over the world. And they don't have to have any connection
to the other individual that they're helping out. There's this neat thing
that we do as genealogists and it's called random acts of genealogical kindness. And
it's a website with the initials, you know, R- A whatever it is, you have to spell
it out. And it's essentially a way that if you really need someone to zip over
to a cemetery and take a photo of a headstone or get a transcription or go maybe pull an
obituary on microfilm that's not online yet or something, you can go online
and sort through a map and sort through a place and find, ultimately, like in a
particular town, if there's anyone registered as a volunteer and then they basically say
yeah. I'm a volunteer for a couple of towns and other people are as well. And
I've had situations where within a matter of a couple of hours people have been able
to turn around and literally have gone, have
driven, strangers have driven to a cemetery, taken photographs of headstones,
come back, pop it in an email and send it to me. I mean, it's just kind of the mindset
that family history mindset, the collaboration and the sharing that we do with
one another is a lot of fun. I share this, anybody in the room work on Google
images? Thank you anyway. [Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: Um, I talked earlier, or I asked the question how many people have the box
of photos somewhere at home, even one or two? And almost all the hands went
up. I have, as you might guess, quite a collection of photographs. While families
may squabble over other things, you know, furniture, money etcetera, I just kind of
always say you know, "I'll take the pictures, thank you!" So I have this great
collection of photos. But sadly, which is often the case, many photos that
people have, it's not like you turn them over and it's got the date and all the metadata
on the back, right, names and who they are, when and what kind of camera etcetera,
etcetera. And so what we do as family historians, of course, is we torture
ourselves into figuring out how many years and what's it gonna take for me to figure
out who these people were. Now, I go to a fair amount of conferences and sometimes
I'm speaking at the conferences and many times, even if I'm speaking, I also
kind of have my bag and then I kind of sneak away and I'll go and I'll go and stand in
line, and wait for people who are specialists in dating photographs based on
photo techniques and the paper that's used and the clothing style, the hair
style etcetera. And so they can kind of narrow down at least when it was taken, where it
might have been taken etcetera. This particular photo haunted me for the longest
time. And all I knew about it, because I knew I recognized the word that was
stamped on the cardboard that the photo was mounted on. It said, "Campobasso." I thought,
well there we go. It's clearly not Dad's family, right, cause they're the
Irish. So, somehow this is connected. And I said that I could kind of confer
that it's from my Mom's family because, um, it came into my possession after my maternal
Grandmother passed away. And I truly didn't think that there was ever gonna
be a shot that I'd ever know who was in this picture, but I was gonna try. And
I tried for awhile and then almost gave up and then I thought, "Well." So I scanned it
in and finally I put it on the website, one of my websites and I simply told
the story of what I thought I knew or didn't know about the photo. And it sat
there for a couple years. And then gradually, thanks to the fact that you guys have indexed
all the words on the page, I got an email from a complete stranger in England
and it came in a few years back and it was two days before Christmas. And
this British guy wrote to me, he's writing to Dan Lynch in the United States. His name
was Giuseppe Gianfanga and Giuseppe was writing to me about our common Italian heritage
which was a lot of fun. The chain of events that follow, I'll spare all the
detail, but in the end what a treat it was for me, if you'll look in the lower right
hand corner. I had made assumptions as a family historian, and I thought a fairly
experienced family historian, I had made assumptions about the photograph as I
looked at it. One of my assumptions was, and I tried to match it up with my tree chart,
I had assumed that the father had passed away because he's not in the photo.
I thought, "Well who's gonna pose for a family photo without Dad if he's still
alive?" I got the whole story, actually, from this little girl.
[pause]
>>Dan Lynch: She was a few years older when I met her. She was 95 when I met her. I met
a gentleman who was able to introduce me. He said, "Well let me introduce
you to my cousin, maybe she has a better memory than me." And we drove to her
house in Italy and she told the whole story. First of all she didn't speak English and
I didn't speak Italian, and it was kind of a lot of, you know, but luckily the
people that were there were kind of able to translate and she couldn't quite
understand the concept of why I, an American, had a photo of her family. And she was trying
to kind of get the photo which I gave her a copy of, but I kept the original.
But she told the whole story of the photograph, one by one, went through her
brothers and sisters, everybody's name and this and that and just an absolutely fantastic
and to me it would have been better, of course, had I understood it, you
know, right directly from her lips and in Italian. But I kind of got the
translated version as we were going along. But a fascinating experience in terms of being
able to match up what I'll call kind of new age genealogy and genealogy and
all the different facets of research and how it's done. And something like this
truly would not be possible if it weren't for the types of work that you guys do, in
terms of allowing people to put things there and having them indexed. You know, I
can't say enough good stuff about it. What's also neat, incidentally, is I
realized that woman sitting in the center of the photo is my great, great Grandmother,
I had no idea I was even related to her. And her name is Maria Luisa Patruti.
So what a treat to be able to meet this, oh I think I skipped ahead, to be able
to meet this woman and spend a little time even though you, you know I can't speak to
her, she can't speak to me. The whole time we were with her, I mean I was probably
with her maybe for an hour with a couple other people she said one word,
actually two words that I understood the whole time. And she told the story about the fact
that the whole reason the photo was taken, she remembered it because it was
the first time she had ever had her picture taken. And she told the story of
having to trek through and walk to the middle of town and it was a snow storm and she gave
them elaborate detail which I'm sure was lost in the translation. The photo
was taken to send to the father, Antonio, because he was in Waterbury, America.
He came over to the United States to work, he stayed for five years, and I had certainly
verified, I mean I saw this guy Antonio De Tota show up in the city directories
in Connecticut, he showed up, he was there for awhile and then gone. I
didn't know what happened to him. I never actually considered not everybody stayed.
He got money, he went back, he bought the farm that she was actually working on
the day that I was there visiting her. And so while he was gone they took the
photo to send to him like, "Hey, don't forget you got a family here." Now, some other things
you find online, you know, I joke when I give the presentations and sometimes
I'll ask, "How many folks have used," and I'll say, "How many folks have
used Google video or Google You, you know, YouTube for family history?" And a couple
years ago not a whole lot of hands went up. And I'd say, "You have to change
your mind set." It's not like you're gonna go there, go to YouTube and type in
your ancestors name and then suddenly you're gonna find a video of them walking off the
boat at Ellis Island, not gonna happen. But, what can you expect to find?"
And I will simply sometimes show something like this, you know, I do a simple
query for Campobasso and it's a place that I've not been and know a lot about. I go here,
not because I understand the language, the more I listen to this guy the
more I know, but I can listen for 20 minutes as this complete stranger to me,
he's got a lot of videos that he's put on YouTube, turns out that he's a priest, he
simply speaks in the dialect in the part of Southern Italy that my family was
from. And I, prior to going there, listened to a number of these videos to kind
of become familiar with the pace of the language and really can kind of put myself in the mode
of, "Okay, this is probably how my great Grandfather might have sounded
when he came to the United States." Alright, so there's different things. Of
course now there's all sorts of things that we do, we can go online to watch videos to
learn about DNA research or all sorts of, you know, there's different uses
for the video tools. Google maps, Google Earth and Street View; I can't say
enough good about those as well. Again, show of hands, anybody working on any of those
things? Alright, I mean, uh [pause]
>>Dan Lynch: I'm not gonna use the word wasted, let's just say I've put a lot of time into
these tools. [Laughs]]
>>Dan Lynch: It could be, time goes by pretty quick as a user when you log into these tools
with something in mind and then realize I've been on here an hour, what was
it I was looking for? What's particularly useful in, and I always kind of talk
about them together, right, Maps, Street Viewer, Earth, one of the things that you might not
appreciate, that we as family historians, we're often dealing with partial
names; partial people's name, partial place names. And it's great just the
suggest feature alone to go into Maps and to be able to use that to help us figure out
what the rest of the place name might be. Okay, what the rest of an address
might be. And I say might be because we often have other things at our disposal
to kind of cross reference. Somebody might have clipped the date out of the newspaper
and it will say the Obituary, or of the obituary and it'll say, "The funeral will
be held at 124 Main St." But it won't tell us where and we'll look and it
might say down below you know, "Cuyahoga something." Alright and you type in pieces of words and
back your way into figuring out where some of this stuff is.
And so I just show a couple of examples here. Oh, sorry. Campobasso, again, I'm
gonna kind of a beat a few examples of that but you guys kind of know this stuff , I kind
of zip through it, but to be able to sit down with family historians and give
them an ability to travel, you know, kind of before lunch,
[Laughs] >>Dan Lynch: to almost anywhere they want
in the world and see with some pretty rich detail, the places, the homes, the
town halls, the churches, the cemeteries, is very, very powerful and can't be understated.
If certain people took up the pursuit later in life and they're not able
to travel, I have a good friend at home, he's 87 about to turn 88, he's addicted
to this stuff. He loves it. You know, he's addicted to the whole internet, I mean, he
loves being able to go online and go to YouTube and type in Glen Miller and just
like, "Wow! They have that there too?" You know? Alright, here's another good
example, right, there was another branch of the family that was from a place called San
Giovanni in Galdo, and I never quite, especially when family members would
tell me and they would say it so fast I never knew it was discreet words I
always thought it was one big word. But using the tools at Google I could gradually kind
of piece this stuff together. One of the other things that neat, I'm gonna go
through these I guess I'll show, so to be able to go into Street View and to
literally walk down the street where you know. Many of the old certificates that family historians
might have actually have the street address and certainly the Italian
ones and I know other countries as well. It's the actual street address where
the family, where the people were born. So it's kind of powerful to be able to kind of
pull this stuff up and look and say, certainly the places look a little different
now than they did, and then after having been to a place as well it's a lot of
fun to kind of come home and kind of take that journey a second time around and perhaps
kind of walk up the street. And I look at the clarity of some of these images,
which still boggles my mind, and I look at something like this and I see that
particular church and I compare it to the photo I took and there's kind of not a whole
lot of difference, really, and I had a pretty good camera with me. And I thought,
well you know, I go back and forth, it's really neat, very powerful. To be
able to walk down this particular street and, of course, you guys are doing your job there
in terms of blurring out the faces and license plates but I actually walked
down this street and I was like, "I know her." Then I went to my photos from
the trip and I remembered this group of Italian women sitting outside and they were pulling
the peas out of the thing, throwing them into a bucket. And I didn't
know how to speak so I just kind of looked at them and made hand motions and
asked, I said, "Permisso photographia?" That was the best I could do and they smiled and
nodded and let me take their picture and I haven't put it online by the
way. [Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: Alright, so it's a lot of fun. Here's another thing that kind of boggles
my imagination. I have census records and birth certificates for an address that
was important in my mom's side of our family; 466 Hamilton Avenue, Waterbury,
Connecticut. That address no longer exists. That address hasn't existed since the 1950's.
This little concept called eminent domain, alright, the house, the land,
everything was taken so the interstate highways could be put in. Somehow when
I typed that into Google Maps, it still pin points the exact location of where that house
was. And how do I know that's the exact location? You'll notice across the street
from, of course where you see the little red pin, on the right hand corner
of that page there you'll see, that's actually a cemetery; St. Joseph Cemetery in Waterbury.
I have a wonderful collection of many, many, many photos from, you know,
people in their Sunday best, maybe on Easter, and what's the last thing they did
before they went to church? They stood on the porch and somebody would take their picture.
And in the background there's a crooked tree and a headstone and there's certain
things to where I was able to take a few of these photographs, at risk of
my own life, kind of literally walk around this highway and kind of step off the thing
and say, "Alright, this is pretty much where the front porch of this house
must have been because there's the headstone, there's the crooked tree." All these years
later you can still figure out exactly where it was. And then I went back
and looked how close this was and I'd like somebody before I leave campus maybe to
explain to me how that works. It's really neat. It's very powerful to be able to actually
pinpoint locations that certainly have changed over time and bared
no resemblance to when they, certainly when my Grandmother lived there. Okay, so
these are fun pieces. Let me, in the interest of time; kind of show some other things kind
of quickly. Very common that we find ourselves going to a place that we've
never been. Or needing to correspond with someone but we're not quite sure who
or where. We know, for instance, it might be somebody say, well I'm pretty sure they
were buried in Oswego, New York. Now, if somebody in their 80's told me that their
recollection was that the burial was in Oswego cause they remember how cold it
was the day of the burial, that's first hand information and I'm gonna say, "Okay." And
I'm gonna record that but they, "I can't really remember the name of the cemetery."
I don't push. I try to get it but if they can't remember it at all I say
"Okay." And then I leave after the interview and I sit down and I'll type in "cemeteries
near Oswego New York." Or "cemeteries near", and to be able to get the list of cemeteries,
you know, get the map, pin point it down, of course, get the phone
number be able to call and find out if they have any records online or if they're available
on microfilm or if I have to go there in person. I mean, all these things
are just tremendous time savers for family historians. And, in the event there's
cemeteries where you've maybe been there or somebody from your family may have been there
or I've had situations where people tell me, "I can't really remember quite
where they're buried, but I know that if you drive in the main entrance and
take a right there's a big building and then you go there and you take a left." Or as a
kid you've been there and remember kind of, so some cases if you have a big cemetery,
it's better than nothing cause it kind of starts to narrow it down. I
keep waiting for Street View for cemeteries by the way. Just saying, you know.
[Laughs] >>Dan Lynch: But this is neat. A lot of times
you get older cemeteries, maybe there's not a caretaker anymore. Or maybe
there are but they're not there when you're there. You're not gonna get a map, sometimes
you're able to find a headstone and you can actually, I print some of these
out and I'll take them and I'll make kind of little notations, I can come back
and put a little pin on it and put it online so that somebody else in the family has the
benefit of now knowing. And, of course, the other great thing now is we all
walk around with these phones in our pockets that have these wonderful GPS
coordinates. Family historians are, don't get the credit that they deserve for being
early adopters of technology. And I'll tell you, even something like you look at,
and I'll talk about it later, you know Google Plus and Google Hangouts, yes
there's a lot of photographers, yes there's a lot of other kind of bright folks doing
some neat things, jump into a Hangout and see what the family history community
is doing with Hangouts. It's fascinating. So I think about GPS technology. How
early on, very early on, family historians were trying to figure out like, "How could
I get the GPS coordinates for every headstone in every cemetery and then tie the
name to it?" And this is the kind of stuff we think about all the time.
Alright, here's a kind of rare, bizarre, extreme case but it happens; it's real. This happens
to be that Main St in that town in Italy, San Giovanni in Galdo, and
as I was walking down the street on Street View I remember walking by, and
believe it or not yes that car was still parked there, but I remember walking by this and
on the side of this particular building I had seen something that caught
my eye. And I asked about it when I was down there because it was unfamiliar to
me. In the U.S. we have newspapers and, of course, there's obituaries. In a lot of these
small towns in Italy and I'm sure in other countries they don't have newspapers
and they don't have obituaries. What they do do is they have a custom, when
someone dies, they post what they call manifests and they print up, essentially an obituary,
but a poster and they just plaster it on the sides of all the buildings
down there to kind of let everyone know that poor so and so has passed away,
the services are gonna be, you know, Wednesday at 7 o'clock etcetera. And so they post it
on the side. And so I recognized on this particular building, on Street View
I could practically read the name there and probably if I wanted to be really
diligent researcher I could probably pin point when this guy died and tell you within a couple
of days when that image was likely taken, but it wasn't my family so there
was no need. But what was neat was I was actually able to go back to my
archival photographs from my trip and I remember that brick building with the manifests. And
because it was new to me I took a couple photographs of it to kind of
teach myself about a custom I didn't know about. And it's kind of a neat, you
know, kind of a neat but extreme thing. Earlier I mentioned that woman, Luisa De Tota, who
was the woman that I met, who was the little girl in the photo. When she
passed away a couple of years ago I actually wanted one of the manifests and I
tried to kind of, when I heard that she passed away I instantly tried to get in touch with
people online saying, "Get me a manifest!" This is as good as I got. Somebody
took a picture and actually sent it to me. [pause]
>>Dan Lynch: So I talk about accidental discoveries being the most intriguing. I have two examples
I'll show and then I'll stop and kind of take questions, I think,
I'm trying to remember the order of some of the slides. I could probably go on; I
could talk about Google Books for hours. Google Books is fascinating. We family historians,
we have this love for anything old. The fact that there are full view public
domain things that we can download and save to our hard drive is fantastic.
One of the things I found just kind of trolling around, often times we don't know, as I mentioned,
what we're looking for, we certainly don't know where it might show
up. And if we put in a person's name that we maybe haven't been able to find
for a long time, it's amazing what will actually accidentally show up in sources like Google
Books. Or even the news archives or timeline. In this particular instance
I will say that this one stopped me in my tracks. It was through Google
Books for someone I hadn't been able to find for quite some time. And I found this document
that had been digitized and you can't see it yet, I could, and I'm gonna enlarge
that portion. The header of the page says, "Prisoners under Sentence for
Life" And sure enough Patrick Lynch and I started to get nervous and think well maybe
that's why I couldn't find him for 10-15 years. But luckily as I look at the
date of birth and the date of conviction, you know, he was convicted 15 years
before my guy was born so I was able to kind of wipe him off the list. But these are the
kind of neat accidental discoveries and this isn't my family but guess
what, this is someone else's family. And so, who would ever stop to think to
look in these sources. Not even family historians, really. We'll kind of take what we can get.
So we kind of use your tools to do that. This is one of the more fun stories
as well. I had the opportunity back in, I think it was in the very late
80's, '89-'90 timeframe, prior to getting married I started to do some research into
my soon to be wife's family. And, as a long time family historian, to me this was
just kind of normal, like I wanted to know stuff. And they said, you should
actually chat with Uncle Bob cause he was in his 80's but nobody had been in touch with
him for years but they said he had been interested in family history for a long
time. So I thought, "He's the guy I wanna talk to." So, I hopped in the car,
after making contact, and drove to southern Jersey and sometimes you have to be careful
because when you connect up with some elderly folks, I mean sometimes the physical
may be fine but the mind might not be all there, you take what you can
get. I had a wonderful afternoon with this gentleman, Bob Wells, but throughout the conversation
he had these kinds of spats where he would just wander or rant and
talk about things that were seemingly unrelated to family history. And at one
point, and I recorded this, and took a lot of notes, and with his permission, and he
repeatedly kept mentioning throughout our discussion, he didn't want to talk about
his mom's family, the mom's maiden name was Strowger and when I kept trying to
steer the conversation to get a little bit of information he didn't wanna go there. But
he kept referencing the fact that the Strowger family had been screwed by the
phone company. And I kind of didn't really know what to make of that. I mean, I
get my bill every month and thought, "Me too." But some time later I had been going through
the notes after really a couple of years and thought, "You know, I really
gotta figure out what this is about." So what do I do? I do a simple query.
Nothing fancy about it, you know, Strowger telephone. Just to see, is there any connection
to anything? And what happens is I come across this little thing called Google
patent search. Let's see, do you have it? [pause]
>>Dan Lynch: And low and behold I start reading and I start seeing a lot of things. Now interestingly
I see Strowger, then I start reading and then I see the name Almon
Brown Strowger which I knew was a name connected and I start reading through
and I'll spare you the detail but some, through significant reading, historical information
and the patents, come to find out that Oris, I'm sorry Almon Brown Strowger
was the inventor of what we know as the switchboard and the rotary phone. And
it's a kind of interesting story that I won't tell you as to why he was motivated to invent
these, but had the patents and sold them to what became ultimately AT&T for
a very small amount of money in the late 1800's very early 1900's. So indeed I
pinpointed the fact that his family indeed had been screwed by the phone company. And
again, these things tie in so nicely because not only did I find the patents and
download them and read through the patents, but then I went through and
realized okay the Strowger phone then I turn around, I go back on, I go to Google images,
pull up countless numbers of Strowger phones, I jump over to EBay, I try
to buy one, little bit beyond my reach. So there's a lot of neat things that we
do. Newer to the mix, certainly these other tools are something we've been using for,
you know, ten years, maybe not all of them 10 years but many of them for the last
decade. As fast as you could come out with them we'll put them to use. Google,
I forget the exact day that Google Plus was kind of unleashed to the public, I think it
was within a week I'd done a presentation at, I was actually at BYU at
a conference that had been scheduled and in the works for months and I called the
conference organizers and I was already on for like four or five talks and I called him
and I said, "Hey look, next week when I'm out there's this new thing that just
came out, why don't you just kind of squeeze it into the agenda somewhere?"
And I did, what turned out to be a standing room only, people didn't even know what it
was yet. Standing room only audience and everyone wanted to know what Google Plus
was. One of the other things that was neat within the genealogical community
was, has anybody heard when Google Plus came out in the Hangouts, the longest Hangout?
And there was a gentleman, there was a group of family historians and the gentleman
who certainly deserves most credit is from Utah, his name is Mark Olsen and
Mark and I had never met. We met through Hangouts and have since actually met in person a number
of times and actually had a lot of business dealings with one another
now but they created the longest Hangout and they just decided, "Hey if you can
do a Hangout why not just keep it going? And just kind of talk 24 hours a day with people
all over the world?" And it lasted for 77 days. It was a really long hangout.
I don't really, I never did hear quite how after 77 days it kind of died
but I will tell you that it was a lot of fun to be able to jump in at the end of almost
every day. My day didn't seem complete unless I checked in. But because
it grew in popularity, you couldn't get in and I'd have to sit there and try
again, try again, try again. And I felt like, "Hey, come on! These are my friends now."
Family historians can't get enough of everything that Google has to offer and
in particular Google Plus. The searching, the ability to share, the ability to
collaborate, the ability to have the profile, for instance, and I'll show just quickly a
piece of my profile here. If family history is kind of what primarily drives
you in terms of your use of the internet which is the case for many family
historians. There are certain ways that we can feed information into our profiles so
when the page gets indexed, there's a good shot that actually my name is gonna start
coming up. Now, later on when somebody's doing research about the De Tota
family or the Orsatti family or San Giovanni in Galdo or these places, very simply you
have people who have wanted to put this information online but they don't really
want to have their own website and try to maintain a website, now they have
the ability to do that. And they didn't really wanna use Google sites really, this is kind
of just right for many of them. Many family historians they go, "Perfect!
I can just go and kind of put this on there." And now they can be found and
others can sort of come to them. So in the time we had I know I kind of bounced around
because I really tried to cover a little bit of everything. And you guys have
been kind in terms of building the tools, too about giving me the opportunity
to come talk to you about this stuff and, again, I appreciate the invite to come here.
And for you to sit and listen as I kind of wandered down this meandering path
of how it is that we use these tools to do what it is that we kind of care about
every day. So with that I'll kind of stop and take any questions that you guys might
have. Or not have. [Laughs]
>>male #1: Are you working on a new edition of the book?
>>Dan Lynch: The question is, "Am I working on a new edition of the book." The answer
is yes. I am. I don't have a date that I can give you but yes. I think I'm lucky,
in some regard, when I wrote the book having always worked in technology, I
wrote the book with the mindset and it was published on the tail end of 2008 and technology
stuff has a tendency to date rather quickly. But I wrote it with kind of
an intentional mindset to try to prevent it from dating as much as possible by
kind of reminding folks that throughout the book it was kind of written as a tutorial
and kind of a workbook and tried to get them to realize that if your screen looks
a little different than what you see on this page, that's okay. It will be
refined over time. It was more the techniques I was trying to teach. And so the book still
holds up pretty well except for maybe the chapter about Google notebook.
[Laughs]
>>male #2: [Inaudible]
>>Dan Lynch: Yeah, so the question is do I find any value in the historical data built
into Earth and my answer is yes to that and also to the historical time-life
collection in the images is where I thought you were going with that but yes it's a
valuable, there's been many discussions in the genealogical community kind of wondering
wouldn't it be great to kind of get all the historical maps that are available
everywhere and to the extent that they could kind of be resized and kind of
pointed correctly and have various overlays. And I know in some cases we have some of those
but it's maybe not as valuable as some other stuff that we use but it's neat
to see and a lot of fun, yeah.
>>male #3: So you're a professional genealogist, I was wondering what kind of work [Inaudible]
>>Dan Lynch: Um, yeah, so the question is as a professional genealogist what are some
of the things I get involved with and whether or not I've been engaged in any kind
of, the legal end of it. I actually did work on the probate of an estate some
years ago and I still remember that, I won't say the name cause I know we're being taped.
I do remember very clearly the name of the family. It was a Connecticut family,
the woman died just shy of her hundredth birthday. She was 99 years old
and left a very sizeable estate with one heir. And it was very interesting scenario because
the belief had been that the heir had died and things would have taken
a very different path. That was a lot of, I hate to say a lot of fun but that
case was actually a lot of fun because I was able to prove in very short order that the
woman had not died and that the assumption had been that the sole heir had
died. About a year later I got a little thank you note from the woman and I
called her up, and I opened the letter and I kind of shook it and no check fell out.
[laughter] >>Dan Lynch: But I thought, you know, it was
a sizeable estate. [laughter]
>>Dan Lynch: You know, the concept of professional genealogists is interesting because, there's
a group called, a professional association called the Association
of Professional Genealogists or APG. And there are different people among
the members of APG, people have different specialties. So I mentioned earlier, for instance,
some people specialize in photography or forensic photography and kind
of the photo aspects. There are others that specialize in research for hire
and there are people that specialize in probate. My end of it is I tend to focus and consult
with organizations mostly technology focused that are trying to create
products and services to serve the market for family history. And so that's
kind of my piece of it, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Foundation has been a client
of mine for years and I helped them with that by virtue of the association I certainly,
I help from time to time trying to find, you know there might be a,
some interesting folks that kind of want their background kind of looked into. It's always
fun to kind of get a phone call and say, "Hey, can you look up so and so's
family?" It's fun stuff. That's when you know you have the addiction is when you
enjoy researching other people's families as much as your own.
>>male #4: If you could think of one tool that's not readily available [inaudible]
>>Dan Lynch: Yeah, the question is what is one simple tool, I only get one? One simple
tool or most important, that's a good question, uh
[pause] >>Dan Lynch: And I don't really have a snappy,
I mean there are so many good ones that are there and truly I, and forget
about me, I mean I really try to be a one man evangelist of getting all the folks and
all the enthusiasts of family history around the world to just use the ones that
we have already. I mean, keep coming up with the new ones. There's no huge gap.
I wish, this is a great opportunity to say, "Hey, here's the thing." There's no huge gap
that comes to mind immediately that says you're really missing the boat on
this. I jokingly put a slide up there earlier that showed the pedigree chart
with the tree, you know? I mean, would it be neat if there was a pedigree viewer because
there is a standardized format for data? Yeah, that might be neat, you know,
to have that built in. But I'm happy to have met Robert and Dave who have a 20%
project internally and we kind of share ideas from time to time about different family history
related things and over time I'm sure some great things will come of it.
So I hope you found it a useful discussion. One more question?
>>male #5: [Inaudible]
>>Dan Lynch: Yeah, so the question in this case is how do the search capabilities in
Google compare to something like Ancestry or thefamilysearch.org site from
the church? In my opinion it's really kind of apples to oranges comparison. I
mean, we're talking about a kind of a free form query situation versus a kind of structured
data set query where I know that Dominico is the first name and I know
that De Tota is the last name and so I put it in the appropriate boxes and so it
goes off and it parses off fields in a database that are specifically called that. That's
a whole lot different than just being able to kind of throw in like, "I heard
this word Campobasso, is it a name? Is it a person's name? Is it a place
name? Is it a disease?" [Laughs]
>>Dan Lynch: You know, you throw it out there and you're not sure what you're gonna get.
And so, they are different tools for different tasks. What would be very interesting
to see, for me, and Dave referenced this at the introduction phase,
April 2nd, you know the U.S. Government's been taking a census every 10 years since
1790. You may or may not be aware of this but there's a 72 year privacy mandate.
And so all the data that's collected, although they turn around and compile
statistics and statistically they'll share what's going on but they retain private for
72 years, all the personally identifiable information. Just so happens
come April 2nd of this year, the 72 years expires for the 1940 census and as a
result it passes from the census bureau over to the national archives and becomes part
of our collective national history. We now have access to that. One of the things
that's neat is to see companies coming together in the space, and I talked
about things like Google Plus and collaboration etcetera, it's the ultimate form of collaboration
where the community is coming together, both organizations and individuals
to come together to embark on a volunteer indexing project. Because
although the national archives is going to make the images available, there's no key
word searchable index. So the images are gonna be there but we gotta wait till,
you know, 132 million names have to be key stroked. So rather than have three or
four or five different companies go off and all compete and do it, three of the major
organizations have banded together; and so you have archives.com, findmypast.com
and familysource.org and created a consortium to actually create a community
project to voluntarily index the records. And the goal is that within six months there
will be a searchable index so then everybody can enjoy, so that's kind of a neat,
you know, if you guys wanna build a tool for that, I mean, in the next
couple weeks that'd be great. [laughter]
>>male #5: [Inaudible]
>>Dan Lynch: So the question is, is anybody building OCR that works across handwriting,
I think, handwriting recognition is a very tricky issue. There's people that are
trying different things and there's technologies that have been developed,
especially when you look at structured data like a census. If you look at a column in
the census where a particular column is gonna say son or daughter there's different
things that you can do. But it's a tricky issue, a lot of different
languages, cause your talking on a worldwide basis, a lot of languages, a lot of variations.
The 1940 census had over 120 thousand individual enumerators that went
out and did it. So it's not like you have one handwriting that you gotta do,
there's a lot of variations. So I've not seen anything reliable out there yet that will
just kind of feed it through and OCR's the name. So I'm happy to stay around
for any questions or just kind of chat you might want to have. I appreciate our
camera man kind of recording this but I'll give him a pass on the rest of this and we'll,
Thank you. [applause]