Perhaps it is the fact that I usually take a dim view of any predictions of doom, perhaps it is my self-characterization as a "glass half-full" kind of guy, I'm not sure. But if anything, the use of the word doom so close to the words genealogy and data, will absolutely catch my attention and force me to investigate further.
- Should we be worried about the destruction of records at court houses and other governmental institutions? Of course, but is this worry a new one? There has always been the need for vigilance and outside watch dogs to keep tabs on these vital sources of information.
- Should we be concerned that people are not preserving their communications as they once did, say in the letter writing days? We communicate in a variety of different ways in the 21st century and while letter writing is not among the top methods, as new modes of sending information develop, so too do means of archiving and saving such data. Take Twitter for instance: the Library of Congress recently announced that it has acquired the entire Twitter archive.
- Are we doing enough personally to preserve our own information, such as email? Even for a techie like me, email management is a nightmare. But the focus should be on backing up ALL of our own data - whether it be genealogy-related or not. This is my monthly rallying call on the first of each month at GeneaBloggers when Data Backup Day arrives.
One comment with which I agree whole-heartedly, especially as a blogger, is the advice to just write. I've said this hundreds of times when someone says, "I don't want to get into blogging about my family history because I am such a poor writer." Nonsense, I say. Don't write for anyone but yourself. Write from your heart. Write to give your ancestors new voices in these modern times. Write to preserve their memories, and your family's memories, and your memories of all of them.
These are hopeful times in my opinion especially with all the technology available for us to digitize and preserve records. But we should not become complacent in the fact that technology will take care of this all by itself. Data preservation does require vigilance, it requires watch dogs and it requires rallying calls. I just don't know that a doomsday prediction is the right call.
© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee