What if we had a system that automated the creation of family history projects?

Creating an easy family history project. So far in building out our family history project here are the stats:

· 30,000 scans.

o 11,000 slides

o 19,000 pictures.

I have posted on my Scott O Andersen blog roughly 300 different blogs containing images, memories and stories that tie the pictures together. But we could do so much more. There is mixing in the various videos of events we held and participated in and some more automation. Today the process we’ve built for scanning and capturing the physical memories is frankly manual.

What would a solution look like in the future? I keep thinking about this. The first thing is that at some point the vast majority of family history projects will be culling through digital remains not physical. Physical photos have a half-life. For images taken in the 50’s and 60’s they are on the back side of that half-life. I suspect with film cameras slowly disappearing that in the next 20 years many family history projects will start (some too late, realizing their oldest memories are gone).

The first thing is start your family history project now. Those pictures will decay and eventually not be scan able anymore. So start scanning now!!!!! clip_image002

Now something else to consider is that most people do not like blogging. Capturing the sinewy tissue between the pictures is also important. Technology can help. There are recording devices that can transcribe your voice into text. There are simply recording devices that allow you to store the audio as wav or mp3 files. The two missing pieces today are the linkages. When blogging your family history project there is a direct mix of text to image. You could create audio files or podcasts and post the pictures together on Podbean (the greatest podcasting platform). Or you could create a folder structure and embed pictures, video and audio of events in that folder. No matter what you have to create a manual process for this.

Future state: Allow me to mix the media types together in an automated fashion that does not require me to think about what I am working on. Scanning pictures of Christmas 1998, recording audio for that event and the application mixes them together with the video I have. An automated event creation process that allows me then to link my various history projects together. Such as overall family, my direct family and my work/friends history projects. One unified system that allows you to access images, audio and video by event, by year, by type.

That software doesn’t exist today. You can certainly create the mixed media event using audio, video and images in a video editing program. Pinnacle is a great example of a tool that can mix all of them. Pinnacle however has no way to consume web pages or blogs.

Requirements for this automated software system:

· Mix local images, and all images stored on the web

· Rotate images on your web site so that they are always fresh and new

· Find local audio files created for events and link them to images

· Find local video files and link them to events

· Create Photosynth’s of events

· Find and mix in text related to images, audio and video

· Go to specified web sites and pull specific requested pages locally so that they can be added to the project automatically

This has to be easily used software. You can’t have to stop and load a program or think about what you are scanning, talking about or videoing. It has to be able to recognize that you are creating something for the family history project.

You can meet many of the requirements today. You can automate a number of requirements today. You can mix and match. But an automated tool that would in the end change the level of effort would of course generate many more family history projects.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.