"Can't we all get along?" I like this question posed by Tim Sullivan at RootsTech, to which he also answered, "Yes!" He was referring to whether beginners and experts can collaborate together on the same family history platform. He was referring to the Ancestry.com website, but I would broaden that question to the entire genealogical community across the many varied platforms that exist today, including various free or fee-based online records sites, genealogy software programs, apps, etc. Can't we all get along? Can't we all work together?
I just came out of a meeting with FHISO, a budding organization trying to do just that: bring together voices from the full spectrum of the genealogical community, including vendors, genealogical societies, and individual family history researchers in order to develop standard methods for sharing information. As users of genealogical products, we would all love to have more seamless ways of making and sharing discoveries and conclusions, across different web sites, mobile devices, and client software applications. FHISO organizers are busily working to build a framework for all of us to work together to make this a reality.
Bringing together this group is a little bit like trying to sit the whole extended family down to plan a major family event. There goes Uncle Bill again, thinking he is in charge of everything, and Grandpa is making sarcastic comments from the peanut gallery, while Charles and Linda are just trying to make sure everyone is included and has a say.
It felt a bit like that in the meeting on FHISO today, as members of the panel, which included such distinguished genealogists as D. Joshua Taylor and Drew Smith, and representation from FGS and major vendors like Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, and RootsMagic, instead found themselves in the hot seat. Many in the room misunderstood, thinking that the panel is FHISO and that they are the audience, and that this committee "up there" was going to be handing down standards. That's not it at all. We are all part of the same family, folks! If you care about making family history data easier to manage and share, if you care about standardization, if you want your voice heard, then you, too, have a seat at the table. Let's not give the people who are trying to bring us all together a hard time. Let's join them, and come with a willingness to do our part to make this family thing a success.