BetterGEDCOM Developers Meeting
6 June 2011

ITEM: Backup (Geir) - What is happening, we need a solution - are we wasting our time on a wiki that will not be available in a year or two?

ITEM: Impact of AncestorSync on the industry.
  1. Sync from Geni and Familogy to desktop genealogy software.
  2. Sync from desktop to Geni familogy.
  3. Autosync – Legacy will auto update RootsMagic Geni or Familogy
  4. End user to end user.
About $20 annually.
Handles GEDCOM, PAF, Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree, TMG, RootsMagic
Translate is a misnomer… it is copy of data.


ITEM: Rules and Guidelines Page – no update.

ITEM: Reports from moderators
ITEM: Footnotes are not citations
FUTURE: Change chat status, as logs aren’t necessary.


ttwetmore 2011-06-06T13:19:43-07:00
"Tom Refutes Source Citations"
I have not refuted source citations. I have expressed concern over the overloading of the term Citation that permeates Better GEDCOM.

I found points in Geir's model to be confusing and against my intuition. I believe Geir's definition of Source Lookup is really the conventional Source Citation, and his Citation is really the general purpose Research Note or Proto Footnote. Trying to understand Geir's record types and then stating that his Citations are not Source Citations is not a refutation of the Source Citation concept.

(It is true that my current DeadEnds model does not have an explicit Source Citation record. But as I have explained the DeadEnds model does have the SourceReference structure that can be used in any kind of evidence-based record. The SourceReference structure points to a Source and contains within itself all the source citation fields; that is, the DeadEnds SourceReference contains the Source Citation data; DeadEnds has always had a Source Citation.)

In trying to discuss my concerns with a few of Geir's points, I have outlined the kinds of records needed for a genealogical system to handle the Evidence, Conclusion, and Biography Worlds. In that outline I have tried to show how the conventional notion of a Source Citation fits in with analogous concepts of Conclusion and general Footnote. It is my contention that Geir's model is mixing together and confusing concepts from these three different worlds.

I am sorry that my comments have been so poorly written as to engender such a misunderstanding about citations.

ttwetmore 2011-06-06T13:28:00-07:00
I am pleased to see that "Tom refutes source citations" has been changed to "Tom challenges current practices about source citations as reference notes."

That is a fair statement. Thank you.

As I did say, if Better GEDCOM decides that we want the term Citation to mean anything that could appear in a footnote, I can go along with it. But it will be confusing to some.
GeneJ 2011-06-09T11:37:19-07:00
Myrt commented "Every scholarly endeavor follows the 'scientific method.'”

See also:
"Scientific Method," _Wikipedia_

"Historical Method," _Wikipedia_

"Research," _Wikipedia_

At the last reference, "Research" if you scroll down to the section, "Research Process" you'll find a section "Research processes."

Quite interesting to note the differences between "Scientific Research [method]" and "Historical method."

In the case of scientific method, as you'd expect, the article refers to "steps." In the summary entry for "Historical method," you'll see the reference to "concepts."

Interested in hearing from others on the differences they see between "scientific method" and "historical method." --GJ
ttwetmore 2011-06-10T08:58:07-07:00
At our level of our discussions there is no significant difference between the scientific method and the historical method. They both consist of collecting evidence, inferring hypotheses from the evidence, testing those hypotheses with other evidence, and modifying hypotheses as required by testing, and then repeating forever. The scientific method has the advantage of being about to run experiments to generate new evidence to test hypotheses, while the historical method depends only upon the limited evidence available. Until we invent time machines anyway. This results is less surety in historical conclusions. That is, conflicting data in the scientific method can be resolved by later, more refined evidence, whereas conflicting evidence in the historical method can often not be resolved, which results in unavoidable uncertainty in the conclusions.
AdrianB38 2011-06-10T13:14:32-07:00
Gene - probably no surprise to you who takes the bait to answer this...

The generic Wiki article on Research gives the impression that there's Science and History and that's it... (Well, it does on a swift reading). After some little thought, I realised that the Scientific Method (at that level) excluded Maths. What? It excludes the Queen of the Sciences? The Scientific Method article goes on to say (pinching bits for quotation) "In the 20th century, a ... model for scientific method was formulated ... Note that this method can never absolutely verify (prove the truth of) ..." This is totally incorrect as far as mathematics goes - 1+1 = 2 not because it has done every time someone's done the calculation, but because it just is... (Well, that's not quite true either but I've not got time to explain Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathematica. Actually - I couldn't explain it even if I had time...)

The scientific method article graciously concedes (can you tell I'm a mathematician?) that "Mathematical work and scientific work can inspire each other" but more to the point concedes that "the mathematical method and the scientific method differ in detail, while nevertheless resembling each other in using iterative or recursive steps"

I'd suggest that, as Tom says, at our level, the whole thing is similar in that we all do things one bit at a time. In each discipline, the steps vary for good reason: in science we tend to build on the work done by others (Einstein saw no reason to reinvent calculus before doing the Special Theory of Relativity). In Family History, believing what's gone before without testing it is the last thing we do. Why? Because calculus is a mathematical discipline that just IS true and peer review checks for any previous errors in the working. In Wikipedia, it's clear that peer review (crowd sourcing?) _can_ work (not always) to determine the usefulness of a conclusion in other disciplines. In Family History, we don't accept prior conclusions as a matter of course - not because peer review / crowd sourcing works in other disciplines and not in genealogy but for the simple reason that there isn't a crowd!! Anyone watching a current thread in the FamilySearch Developers' Network list might have seen people advocate crowd sourcing. Well, I don't know about the US, but I can guarantee that if I look at a family in England, say the Pickstocks of mid-Cheshire, while there are dozens of people with Pickstock trees in GenesReunited or Ancestry, the number of original researchers probably amounts to about 4 or 5. At most. That's not a crowd. And I've not found _anyone_ else interested in the English descendants of my 3G grandfather Thomas Pleass of Bristol - who I don't trust a word of what he says!

In maths, there are other major differences - specifically, mathematicians spend the first X pages of a sub-discipline establishing - quite arbitrarily - the ground-rules of that sub-discipline (the axioms, we call them). For instance, in moving from the (Maths speak warning!) real numbers to the complex numbers, we suddenly say - well, after all that's gone before, there suddenly IS an answer to the square root of minus one and it's called "i".

So, there are differences between mathematical, scientific, historical and (probably) genealogical methods. At root they all depend on logic but at root they all tweak their methods to cope with the facts of life. (I think I might _automatically_ trust peer review in history but not in genealogy because of the _general_ lack of informed peers)
AdrianB38 2011-06-10T13:26:45-07:00
Oh - and by the way, there is also a difference that I can't properly articulate between the type of problem to be solved.

In applied maths, there's a world of difference between "Please prove the formula for the trajectory of a shell fired from a gun" and "What elevation must the gun be raised to, in order to hit target X at a distance of Y, given a muzzle velocity of Z, etc, etc?" Most of the stuff on the Scientific Method concentrates on the first sort of problem - i.e. how we "know" that the formula is xxxxxxx. Working out the elevation for a specific target is rather different - problems in genealogy are the latter sort, they are not the former. I suspect most historical problems are also solving specific issues, not deducing a generic rule. Only(?) economists (and Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series) try to deduce generic rules, science style.
GeneJ 2011-06-11T11:16:03-07:00
Interesting observations.