Would you get more genealogy research done faster if you could "partner" with a fellow genealogist on a particular task? Would the collaborative product be of any higher quality?
Here's why I ask: I just received an email invitation to this month's Chicago Ruby Hack* Night. Basically, this involves local computer programmers getting together to tackle a fun project -- in this case, building a website to optimize the cost of a hotel stay. The cool twist is this: they program in pairs!
I looked up "Pair Programming" on Wikipedia. The practice has been shown in scientific studies to produce better-designed programs with fewer bugs in less time than it would take for two programmers working separately on the same project. Here's a tantalizing example:
Collaborative teams consistently report that together they can evolve solutions to unruly or seemingly impossible problems. ... The driver might actually be working out a design or implementing a part of the problem, realizing that he or she may ultimately come to a dead end in the problem resolution. The navigator, while watching the driver's partial design or implementation, begins thinking about the next step. When the driver hits the dead end, the navigator is often prepared to take over and lead the way. Often, the cycle continues until the problem is solved.
So I got to wondering. Would the same results hold for genealogy research? Would two genealogists working side-by-side on the same project be more likely to brainstorm creative solutions to difficult problems? Would their differing perspectives help them get past brick walls more readily? Would peer pressure increase the likelihood of rigorous documentation and proper source citations? And would it be more fun?
I find the concept of a genealogy "hack night" tremendously appealing. I envision researchers learning new tricks from each other, keeping one another on task, and celebrating new discoveries together. Could you try this with your local genealogy society? Or just talk a friend into trying it with you? I'd love to hear stories of how it works (or doesn't work) for you.
*"Hacking" in this context refers not to criminal activity but to clever, insightful problem-solving on the part of ethical computer programmers.
 Williams, Laurie; Kessler, Robert (2003). Pair Programming Illuminated. Addison-Wesley. pp. 26. ISBN 0-201-74576-3
| Getting to Know Our Providers|santabarbaracogensoc
This month we'd like to introduce you to our newest provider--The Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society. Established in 1972, their society is 500 members strong and their library has over 20,000 items.
Members of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society say they will "go out of their way to satisfy a research request." Their offerings include obituaries, wills and probate, naturalization, divorce, mortuary records, deeds, coroner's inquests and more.
Please visit our Facebook page
to read about others who have listed new research offerings recently.
|SCGS Jamboree: Thanks, Mom!|
|For the fourth year running, Genlighten had a booth in the exhibitor area at the SCGS Jamboree. This year's event took place last week in Burbank, CA. |
- When our server at La Bamba Island Cuisine learned I was into genealogy, she asked if I could help her research her Cuban ancestors. Do Ancestry or FamilySearch have Cuban records? We'll see!
- One booth visitor asked if we had a research provider for St. Kitts. As always, it pained me to have to tell her no. But recruiting one in person sounds like it'd be fun.
- My mother traveled down to Burbank from the San Luis Obispo area to help me staff our booth. (That's her getting on the train to go home in the photo above.)
We're taking a summer break from genealogy conferences, but we'll be at FGS in Springfield in September. See you there!
- Several of our providers stopped by to say hi, including romamiller (also from San Luis Obispo).
|Genlighten 2.0 Beta Update|
We continue to make progress on our next major release. Here's a screenshot from the new Search Results page. Searching the site for "maryland" produces a list of providers, offerings and repositories. Users can drill down in each category or click through on a result to learn more.
If you have questions about specific research offerings or about using the Genlighten site, please ask! We're always happy to help.
There are two ways to reach us.
Phone: 302-LOOKUP1 (302-566-5871)
If you email, we check messages on and and off all day long and we'll reply as soon as we see your note. If you telephone and we don't pick up, please leave a message so that we can return your call.