Sunday, July 19, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over (Cycle 3) - Week 3 - Oh No, I Have To Start Researching!

So we are now in Week 3 of the third cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over.  Am I really doing this, or just pretending? Sometimes I am not sure.

Recap of Last Week

You may have noticed that there were no posts on the blog this past week (I sure noticed). I wish that I could say that was because of something exciting or fun going on, but no, it was actually just boring normal life stuff happening. Plus a lot of computer gaming, because I have been a bit stressed out. Change is coming at work, and I don't know what that will look like for me.

I was supposed to be coming up with a research plan. I didn't. I think I am taking this Do-Over too literally. Do I really need to start from the beginning? That stuff is so boring! I already know it!

Two Topics for Week 3

Tracking Research

Ah, the bane of a researcher's life. This is even worse than citing sources. Tracking every blind alley, every useless search, every successful search. This is insanely tedious, but terribly necessary.

Let me give a very current example. I wrote just two weeks ago that I had found an online tree that likely contained the Polish part of my Kolakowski line. I did a quick online search and found records from the local Roman Catholic parish that validated some of the information.

Well, the operative part was "quick online search." I received an e-mail from my distant cousin who created the online tree, and this prompted a question that made me want to quickly check the online parish records.

I couldn't find them. They were just there. I had bookmarked them. I checked the search history of my browser going back days. I checked my well-organized bookmark collection. Nothing. No trace.

This drove me nuts. I found the download history from the browser for the record that I saved, and learned which website it came from. I couldn't find the records on the site. 

After about a half hour of searching every possible rabbit hole on that giant Polish database site, I finally found the right page. I knew it was the right page because the browser showed that it had been bookmarked. (I guess my clever bookmarking organizational system isn't perfect.)

The moral of the story - tracking research is really important.

But I hate the idea of using a spreadsheet - they drive me nuts (so, so, linear!). I would rather use a database program, but it seems like those are passe these days.

(I find it hysterically funny that I am complaining about linearity, when I am the queen of stacking things into neat piles.)

I wonder if I can figure out how to do research tracking in Evernote. Tags are good. Tags are sort of non-linear.

Conducting Research

OK,without a plan, and without committing to a tracking regimen, I can't really do that research. That is the whole point of the Do-Over. Three weeks in, and I am already behind. But we are at the beginning of the week, and maybe I can get things in gear.

Successful or not, I will be back next week with more on this journey.