Thursday, September 11, 2008

Footnote's New People Pages

I have to admit that I've had a Footnote subscription for the past six months but have not been using it much until I began storing scanned photos as a means of not only sharing them as a Member Contribution but also as a means of backing them up.

With their announcement via e-mail and a posting on their blog, I was intrigued by the concept of a Person Page as described so I traveled over to Footnote to check it out.

I signed in and at the Introduction page for the Person Pages, I entered the name of my great-grandfather, Ralph Austin.

The search results appeared and I scrolled down looking for my Ralph Austin who was born in 1896 and died in 1976. Bingo! There he was:

I clicked the Footnote Page link on the left and the Person Page for my ancestor appeared:

It seems that the page was created by Footnote based on the Social Security Death Index data. All that was needed was for someone to customize the page by adding images, facts, stories and more. So I decided to spend a few minutes and do just that.

I clicked on Add Images in the Gallery section and was prompted to either select from images already stored in My Gallery in Footnote or to upload an image from my computer. I selected an image on my computer, added a caption and added it to the Person Page.

I then double-clicked on the image and could see the caption that I had added.

Next I decided to modify the existing facts as Footnote had entered them by clicking the green plus symbol next to the Person fact in the Facts section.

Technically, my great-grandfather's name is John Ralph Austin, not Ralph Austin. At first, I was going to add a new Full Name but that didn't make sense. It would not change the underlying title of the People Page. So I opted to complete the Also Known As field as well as add information to the Religion field.

I clicked Save Fact and then once the new Person facts were added, I clicked on New Fact and selected Birth. I was able to complete birth information such as birth place, parents, gender, etc.

After clicking Save Fact, I returned to the main page for Ralph Austin and could see that as more facts were added, the Timeline image as changing.  The Timeline section is updated as you add more and more facts.

My conclusions so far: it appears that Footnote is pushing the concept of Person Pages as the next step in Genealogy 2.0 and working collaboratively.  What they've done appears much more refined than simply uploading a GEDCOM or building a collaborative family tree the way Geni and WeRelate do.

As a user you seem to have more of a "buy-in" with the concept of a Person Page as Footnote presents it.  You don't need to create a page from scratch - Footnote has utilized its SSDI and other records to start the page.  

One nice touch that I stumbled upon and which indicates that the Person Page concept is truly collaborative: when reviewing any Fact, you can indicate whether or not you "agree" with the fact by clicking a green "thumbs up" symbol that appears when hovering over a Fact Detail.  

Also, with Footnote's Watch feature (available under Your Account),  you can set your notification preferences and be notified whenever a change is made to a Person Page.  However, the Watch icon is not available directly on the Person Page: it appears you must click the Watch icon when performing a search for a specific Person Page.

With all the recent changes in various sites such as Footnote, Geni, WeRelate and others, it will be very interesting to watch how the concepts of Genealogy 2.0 and collaborative genealogy progress over the next few months.


Denise Levenick said...

Thomas, this is fascinating. I have not used Footnote at all because I am not ready to "go public" with Arline's letters; but the Pages concept makes great sense and would be a way to share information and hopefully make new connections. Am I hearing "Facebook for Ancestors"?

Thomas MacEntee said...


thanks! If you do go "public" with the letters, make sure you understand all the copyright issues etc. Craig Manson at geneablogie has some great articles on this.

There already is a Facebook for Anestors - it is called Geni. Check it out - you'd be surprised at how much the interface is like Facebook (in fact I'm surprised it hasn't been the subject of a "look and feel" lawsuit.

If you don't mind, I'd like to do a post today about your comment as to Facebook for Ancestors and tie it into info on Geni. Sound good?