I, for one, am very optimistic about New FamilySearch’s future and I’ll tell you a couple of reasons why.
Many of you are accustomed to the old way of developing software. It is called “waterfall development.” For-profit companies made one release a year and non-profit companies like FamilySearch made one release every three to five years.
Now, companies like FamilySearch and Ancestry.com use a new approach to software development that is “incremental.” Ancestry.com, a for-profit company, makes a new release to their web software once a week. As we’ve seen for several years now, FamilySearch makes a new release to their web software once every quarter. Incremental development allows an organization to get feedback about their software and make course corrections more often. I have a lot of respect for planners like Ron Tanner and Dan Lawyer and many other knowledgeable individuals working for FamilySearch. I believe it is only a matter of time before NFS evolves into something better.
The other reason I’m optimistic about the future of New FamilySearch has to do with its collaborative environment. Here’s my thinking:
|New FamilySearch is collaborative.|
|Because it is collaborative, conflicting opinions will occur. When Wikipedia users toggle a fact back and forth, it is called an “edit war.” FamilySearch employees have said that corresponding “pedigree wars” occurred in corrections to FamilySearch Ancestral File.|
|Because pedigree wars will occur, FamilySearch will be forced to turn to the genealogy field’s knowledge of how to best judge conflicting genealogical evidence. Part of Wikipedia’s solution to edit wars was the creation of volunteer arbitrators empowered to pass judgment in edit wars.|
|Because judging conflicting genealogical evidence requires extensive historical knowledge specific to the people, time, place, and records, those who have the time and inclination to receive the necessary training will make the best arbitrators.|
|As a result, the genealogical community will achieve its objective of evidence-based conclusions and FamilySearch sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will achieve its objective of making family history easier for all its members without burdening all members with time-consuming, specialized training.|
So I have no doubt that New FamilySearch will incrementally become an ever more valuable tool for both the Church’s members and for the world’s genealogists. My only doubt lies in my ability to handle the frustrating void between what New FamilySearch is and what it will become.