Background--During the 19 Sept 2011 Developers Meeting
, Gordon Clarke discussed the potential to develop a community-owned organization that would become the focus of technology standardization for the international genealogical community. Mr. Clarke subsequently posted various helpful materials to the page, "Developing the Organization
," including a set of eight (8) instruction points.
In the 24 Oct 2011 Developers Meeting
, an ad hoc committee (herein, "the committee") was created to collaborate about "Developing the Organization" (occasionally, "DTO"). Specifically, this committee will work to expedite an initial proposal for further comment by the BetterGEDCOM membership. While the committee will mostly work off-wiki, this page, "DTO Starting Summary" is being created to collect comments about how members our current, less formal approach to organization and operations, all in terms of the eight (8) instruction points referenced.
The material that follows is an attempt to summarize information from the wiki. Oversight was not intended; members are encouraged to improve upon the descriptions that follow.
Submitted by GeneJ, 30 Oct 2011.
Our current, more informal, organization and operations
... In terms of the eight (8) instruction points from "Developing the Organization"
1. Create a name for the organization and use it as the first section of the charter. Ideally, the name will represent the purpose of the organization.
2. The second section of the charter should be the statement of purpose. It is critical to understand and keep in mind the strategic importance of the organization. Write out the major objectives of the organization in a succinct paragraph.
BetterGEDCOM brings together independent stakeholders from the global genealogical community for the purpose of developing and maintaining technology standards. We operate in an organized and transparent manner without prejudice toward any existing or future genealogy software program or website, ethnic group, culture or country
3. In the third section, write down the key criteria for success of the organization. What specifically will need to happen in order for the organization to be considered a success?
BetterGEDCOM = BetterGEDCOM will be a file format for the exchange and long-term storage of genealogical data. It will be more comprehensive than existing formats and so become the format of choice. We have developed User Requirements (see the Requirements Catalog
) for which technical solutions either have been or will be developed.
4. In section four, write out the organizational structure. Who are the key members of the organization, and what are their roles and responsibilities? These roles will vary from organization to organization, but some examples include the organization's sponsor, board of directors, finance manager, head writer, marketing director and office manager.
Members. Enrollment is open to technologists/developers and end users alike. (
) We seek to develop a broad, active membership. Those in the genealogical community submit a request to join the Wiki. Other than approval of the request, there are no other membership requirements. Some members are developers or represent developers, while others contribute independent of their development interests/employment. Heretofore, most member rely on their own resources to develop proposals, support research and testing, etc. Members must register to participate on the wiki. Weekly "Developers Meetings" are held in GoToMeeting. All but a very few who attend Developers Meetings are believed to be members of the wiki.
Moderators. During Developers Meetings, moderators may be appointed to oversee particular parts of the Wiki. The moderators set posting guidelines and oversee those Wiki sections. See the “Use of this page” comments on the top of some wiki pages, (Guidelines+for+posting+or+editing
Administration. The Wiki, SiteMeter
, the Blog, weekly Developers meetings (GoToWebinar
), Gmail account and use of SurveyMonkey
are sponsored by DearMyrtle (with support from Andy), who appoints members of the “organizers group” and decides which Members may approve membership, access Wiki tools, post to the blog, etc.
5. The fifth section should outline the applicable background information, including an explanation of the factors leading to the creation of the organization. What other organizations, people, environmental influences, market trends, consumer needs, etc., are and will be influential in the creation and duration of the organization?
Comment—If GEDCOM had been maintained over the years, creating an updated standard today would still be a big project, but in the 15 years since the current standard was developed, practices, thus requirements, of genealogists and family historians has changed much. Technology has changed too, so that in many areas, there are substantial differences between the technology vendors use. There are probably even more differences between what and how users record information in their genealogical software. See BetterGEDCOM Requirements Catalog.
From the Wiki-- We recognize that genealogy file sharing isn't working properly - data gets lost or scrambled, and that really complicates matters for researchers. We seek to develop an open standard without prejudice toward any existing or future genealogy software program or website, ethnic group, culture or country.
See also the links and discussions summarized at “What’s wrong with GEDCOM.”
Other Organizations--A group of 21 German-speaking developers have been working to agree on standardizing the usage of GEDCOM 5.5.1 (message/view/home/29434177#31192319
At least since RootsTech 2011, there have been various discussions in the group about the work FamilySearch is doing on newGEDCOM / new gedccom. See the RootsTech 2012 schedule for a planned presentation (http://rootstech.org/schedule
), with whom BetterGEDCOM is collaborating is working to standardizing particular source templates used in some software packages.
There are various more independent or region-specific genealogical data models that have been or are in process.
Associated groups and standards—“We” are truly not alone in this increasingly digitally connected world—"we" do not control the ‘net, nor do we control oversight of the vast majority of research and cultural heritage resources around the world. (Though one supposes we can dream.)
Trends—(a) An increasingly globally connected world places more demands on collaborating and sharing genealogy/family history data. (b) Moving “to the cloud” demands flexibility about what, where and with whom they share information—it also brings up important user preferences about privacy. More and more, the user doesn’t ask which one software program will I use—but how many different software programs and platforms want to access. (c) Increasing trends in digitization (and standardization of same) means a remarkable quantity and quality of source materials are available. (d) And then we have more and more tablet and mobile users. Lets not forget cross platform, either. (e) Finally, expanding educational opportunities allow genealogists and family historians access to more scholarly techniques and methodologies.
6. In the sixth section, detail the scope of the organization's activities. What will the organization do, make, sell, sing, etc.? Also, it is important to specify what is out of scope for the organization. This will help keep the organization appropriately focused in the years ahead.
We support an open genealogical community in the development of technology standards (see above, no. 3). In addition to more formal responsibilities, we develop and maintain various topical tables, spreadsheets or libraries of information. One example of a topical table is the BetterGEDCOMComparisons worksheet.
Scope and Focus—BetterGEDCOM has been challenged in this area. See the introduction to 5.
(a) The wiki HOME page and the related Navigation bar provide some overview of member scope and focus. (In an earlier period, the "Build a BetterGEDCOM Blog" was also used for this purpose.)
(b) From about February through about the end of June, the BetterGEDCOM Requirements Catalog was the focus of work conducted on the wiki. Since then, members' view of focus may depend on whether they connect mostly through the wiki or through the Developers Meetings.
(c) As a general comment, Members may submit new proposals or ideas via the wiki or in the Developers Meetings. Other members may join in the dialog, so that these submissions may be discussed, researched and otherwise further developed on the Wiki or in Developers Meetings. (See also item 7.)
7. In section seven, write out the processes by which the organization will conduct business. For example, how will the organization implement decisions, changes and partnerships? How will the organization communicate, internally and externally, and what templates, guidelines and quality-control methods will be used? This section will need to be very clear, and should be carefully reviewed and approved by all key stakeholders to ensure the appropriate information is included and accurate.
8. The final section should discuss finances. How much money will be required to begin work as an organization, and how is it being funded? What income will be required, and how will revenues be invested and/or distributed
As above, no. 4, our administration has been generously sponsored DearMyrtle (and/or Andy H.). An unsuccessful attempt was made earlier to solicit support from societies for our GoToMeeting