Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ancestry.com new Story View

Various sources are reporting that Ancestry.com is testing a new feature for member trees called “Story View.” According to Jordan Novet of GigaOM, Ancestry.com uses software from Narrative Science which takes facts from the documents and photographs attached to a person in a public member tree and uses a computer algorithm to construct a narrative describing their life. Novet wrote that Ancestry.com is rolling out the feature slowly, currently making it available to 10% of users.

Frederick Walton Seaver's story view on Ancestry.comRandy Seaver is one of those with access to the feature and reviewed it in his blog last Friday. (See “First Look at Ancestry.com’s Story View.”) He clicked a green button on a person page to generate a Story View of that person (shown to the right).

The top of the page consists of the principal photograph of the person and a paragraph constructed by computer that gives a short biography of the person.

Underneath this Ancestry.com constructs a timeline using the images associated with that person. Next to each image is a date and description, which can be edited and reordered.

The resulting story can be shared with the general public. To see Seaver’s, click here.

4 comments:

  1. Ancestry has finally caught up with me. I've been doing this in Reunion (notes) since I started my trees. Stories are what I look for, not just names.

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  2. It would be nice if people actually took the time to try to discover and recreate the world their ancestors lived in. Maybe then, they would be moved to write family stories that were more than an automated rolling together of a bunch of links from shaking green leaves that no one has taken the time to read or think about. Or maybe that's just way too much trouble, and would require more effort and attention than our ancestors deserve.

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  3. Mark, those of us who do that, will continue to do so because there is so much more to a life than the information a machine can pull together.

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  4. Gee:
    A machine that will create a biographical sketch! And a rather flat, cardboard one at that! There's a lot of data about individuals that Ancestry doesn't corral (I have yet to see them tackle personal property tax records which are annual and are an overlooked gold mine resource to find a person between federal census, from the colonial period onward,) that are helpful in nuancing the dimensions of a person's life. Good bio sketches take time and knowledge and good research skills. That is not required to use Ancestry.com and the results are correspondingly shallow. No machine can do that. That's a people skill.
    Alex Colvin
    The Colvin Study,
    http://acolvin2010.wordpress.com/

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