Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Killer Cool! Wow!!!

Just heard about a killer cool presentation from the BYU Family History Conference. Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow!

Community Reference Links proof of concept 
Tim Cross example of Community Reference Links

Tim Cross showed three new eye popping services being developed by a genealogical community of cooperating partners led by FamilySearch.

These are innovative and astounding applications leveraging the new FamilySearch Tree (NFS).

Community Reference Links

Community Reference Links is an emerging technology that enables you and the rest of the genealogy community to hook together everything about your ancestor that is on the web. This includes artifacts, photographs, and stories that pertain to an ancestor. Cross showed a “proof of concept” application showing this capability.

Cross’s demonstration is still accessible (as I write this) at You can see a screen image pictured to the right.

At the top left of the page is a link to the focus individual on NFS.

Focus individual in the new FamilySearch Tree

Below that are links to various information and artifacts around the Internet. One is a link to a person page on

Person page on

Another links to a grave on

Memorial photo from

Finally, the page has links to several photographs on Family Photoloom.

Photographs on Family Photoloom

These community references are called links because the artifact or content isn’t copied. Web pages, photographs, and other artifacts remain where they are.

I should reiterate that this is a proof of concept, only. When—or even if—it will see the light of day is impossible to predict. This is such a simple, powerful concept, I can’t imagine it not coming to fruition. If FamilySearch should somehow stumble and fail to productize this service, I think other vendors will move forward without them.

Next time I’ll show you two more eye popping services. Does anybody else see a problem with this? Three eye pops. Two eyes. Maybe you’ll see two more, and maybe you won’t.


  1. I cannot see! I cannot see! This news is a double eye popper!

  2. The Community Reference Links you discussed sounds really great except for one big problem. Web links don't always remain constant. Webmasters seem to have a propensity for redesigning things periodically and when they do, sometimes the URL for a particular object changes. This results in the infamous broken links often seen on web sites that have a lot of off-site connections. Unless and until this problem is solved, I will continue to download everything I can to my own storage facility where I know I can find it.

  3. How does this differ from's "Web Links" that are available (though not prominently) to subscribers on the Family Trees? There, too, one links to other websites referencing the individual.

  4. Dear John,

    True, so true. CRLs is not an attempt to solve the issue of broken links. I would continue creating your own copy of anything you want to keep.

    While solving broken links is not the focus of CRLs, because breaks would undermine the value of the link community, FamilySearch is giving it some thought. One line of thought is to place vendors under contract to honor forever any links the vendor submitted to the community. Another line of thought would be to require insertion of a digital object identifier into the URL. (Sorry; don't have space here to explain that.)

    Thanks for the feedback.

    -- The Insider

  5. Dear Nolichucky,

    I'm giving you my understanding, but remember I don't speak for FamilySearch and I could be wrong.

    Let me illustrate how a CRL would be different than a web link.

    Let's say that you have a Nolichucky Smith in your Member Tree.

    Imagine someone finds a record about him on FamilySearch and attaches it to the new FamilySearch Tree (once that is possible). You would automatically get a shaky leaf in your tree. You could attach the record from FamilySearch to Nolichucky in your tree. Something similar happens to all the Nolichucky Smiths on all participating websites.

    You find the 1880 census record for Nolichucky Smith on and attach it. The link shows up on Nolichucky Smith in the new FamilySearch Tree and so forth.

    Community Reference Links are worthwhile for pay websites--and this is important--because non-subscribers must still pay to access the linked records. Pay websites get a source of highly targeted potential subscribers. Click-through rates will outperform any other source.

    Community Reference Links are good for you, an end user, because you find out whenever anyone finds a record about your ancestors. You find out what websites have those records. You can make more informed decisions about website subscriptions. You find free records and photos.

    So you see, Community Reference Links operate more like shaky leaves and member connections than website links.

    -- The Insider

  6. A brilliant use of the internet for genealogists!

  7. Just curious if this is a way around the problem with "disputes"? If we shared a common ancestor, but you published one set of "facts" and i had another set of "facts" we would both be able to attach links to both are sets of facts.

  8. I noticed today that Names in Stone allows you to link a grave record with a New FamilySearch record. Hope that one day you can link the Names in Stone record to the FamilySearch record like you show here.


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