Preparing for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015

My WDYTYA? Live 2015 tickets have just arrived, and I’ve started my countdown to the show.

My tickets arrived this morning for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 – the first at the NEC, Birmingham. 

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 tickets arrive
My WDYTYA? Live tickets have arrived.

I’ve opted for all three days Thursday-Saturday 16-18th April, but have not yet completely picked out the expert talks from the wide range of workshop topics that are up this year.

I do have my eye on a few though, including:

I’ve also opted to stay in nearby Coventry, so will be hopping onto the train for a few minutes east > west each day.

I do have a few ‘to-dos’ though:

  • Sync the Reunion10 files on my iPad. I found this so useful last year, when I was able to talk to the Devon Family History Society, and compare what was in their database with what was in my tree without folders of papers to wade through.
  • Collect a spoon from my mother. Yes, a spoon. I’m hoping to show this spoon to Eric Knowles, in a bid that he might use his expertise to give it a date that may reveal that it is more likely to be one of the spoons that an ancestor went to court over, after being accused of theft, and was found not guilty by a jury because of conflicting evidence. Does this carefully handed-down spoon have significance. More on that after the show!

If you’re going to the show (tickets still seem to be available), how are your preparations coming along? Any workshops that you’re interested in attending? Or maybe you’re one of the presenters – in which case, are you ready?

I’m also really looking forward to re-connecting with those people who I’ve met at previous shows, and who i’ve enjoyed the discussions and witty comments from on this blog and other social media. The event really helps to make that spare room hobby, feel like part of a combined effort to preserve the history, heritage, and collective memories of generations.

For now though, happy tree surgery!

Andrew

Privacy and the Genealogist

How are you handling data privacy in your family tree research?

There’s some pretty big data privacy issues hitting the news lately – with some of the largest organisations seemingly taking a lacklustre approach towards the importance of security of individual’s private information.

Private door beside tree
Privacy and the family tree. Photo: mendhak via CreativeCommons.

How does data privacy affect genealogy?

We’ve all got our data backed up, right? (right?) and that’s sitting somewhere, perhaps online so that we can easily access it from an account like Evernote, Dropbox, or Google Drive?

At worst, you’ve not yet backed it up, but you’re just about to (PS: here’s a great article from Caroline Pointer on ‘Cloud’ storage for genealogy).

What’s in that data?

I’m guessing that you’ve got names, dates, and locations for a wide range of people through the centuries, but probably a few photographs, maybe some contact details for modern relatives/researchers, and maybe some copies of emails or letters in there too.

There’s some personal data there. How are you handling that? How do those big online storage sites handle that data?

I like a papery office

One of my favourite things about researching a family tree, is having documents, objects, papers, letters, photos etc in a real tangible form. Even if they are just photocopies, or photo reprints. I really enjoy having these items around me, and find them useful. I spend too much of my day staring at a screen already – ‘real’ objects are a welcome break.

Filing is of course important, but no-one is really going to hack my paper files. The worst fate they can meet is fire, flood, robbery, or a stray firework.

Thinking about privacy

I’m fortunate with my Reunion 10 software on my Mac, in that I can flag anyone as ‘private’, and when I do, they are then excluded from any data exports that I do, until i un-flag them.

The 'Private' option in Reunion10 for Mac.
The ‘Private’ option in Reunion10 for Mac.

So I can happily share my data with anyone, knowing that I won’t be about to give personal details away.

Building a tree in privacy

If you’re wanting to build a tree online, but want to retain privacy, then there are a few sites that allow for this.

Famberry logoOne site that takes data privacy as its main point, is Famberry, whose online tool specialises in allowing you to build a tree in collaboration with those you specifically invite, and no-one else, from the out-set. Whilst they’ve seen success in the US, where data privacy has been a big issue/challenge/problem and therefore a key topic for web users, they’re busy building their UK presence.

Sites like FindMyPast, GenesReunited, and of course Ancestry, also include options to set your tree as private, and also to make living relatives anonymous to those outside of your invited tree viewers.

FindMyPast's privacy settings
FindMyPast’s new tree tool includes two sets of privacy settings – one for the tree, one for living twigs.

However, that note above from FindMyPast has got a point… sharing IS a great way to learn from those who have the same interests.

So what IS privacy? What is the bare minimum that you can share, and what you should share? What happens if someone asks you to hide/remove their data? A lot of our basic information is easily available via Facebook, Google+, electoral records, LinkedIn, telephone directory services (print and online), newspaper clippings, and even headstones give away information.

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below:

  • How do you handle privacy in genealogy?
  • Have you ever asked to be hidden/excluded?
  • Have you ever been asked to hide someone’s details?

The Barber family infographic

Combining my love for genealogy and infographics – yes! it’s a genealogy infographic.

I’d been looking for an excuse to combine my love for infographics (small chunks of information delivered as graphics) with my love for genealogy, and now I’ve achieved it. Here’s my first attempt at combining the two.

Using the data buried in my Reunion10 Mac software (see Reports > Statistics), I’ve managed to pull some key figures from the data I have against my maternal Barber family in a bid to make genealogy that little bit more interesting for those relatives who nod and smile when you start talking about ‘the tree’ and hand them a print out showing names of people they’ve never heard of. Maybe this format will help capture their interest and give them some interesting/quirky facts to remember.

An infographic showing Barber family data
An infographic created using my Barber family data.

I had quite a bit of fun making this, so will probably create some more in due course.

Click the image if you want to see a larger version.