Sunday, July 29, 2012

Littering the Landscape

I live in the Tampa Bay area, which means I'm treated each Sunday to a column by Sharon Tate Moody who also happens to live in the area. Her column today is Technology makes record keeping a challenge. Her conclusion is that regardless of the technology, ya' still have to maintain the paper versions of your documents. I agree.

Don't get me wrong. Geek that I am I've converted all of my paper documents into PDFs and stored them in the cloud, on an external drive, on flash drives, and on CDs. Quite a few of my documents are even trapped as attachments in one of my email accounts.

After a document has been scanned and saved as a PDF, you have lots of options for storing it and deploying it. For example, when I get a request for a document, I usually respond with a PDF attached to an email, which is a convenience that genealogists of yesteryear might not have been able to imagine.

I've also stored the paper versions as a backup. In addition, for some records (Civil War Pensions for example), I've sent paper copies of the files and requested that they be added to the collections of the genealogy library where someone would likely be researching the family.

In my opinion, the next logical step is that a conscientious genealogist will go to paper in the form of articles and books that include those scanned documents (where possible) and that get widely distributed. Littering the landscape with paper versions of your work ensures that the work survives and is used. Note that going to paper doesn't preclude the electronic deployment of your articles and books. (I'm playing with e-books now!) The upshot is that you should be considering deploying in every format available, including basic good ol' fashion paper.

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