Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Dan Lynch the Indiana Jones of Genealogy?

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to Dan Lynch speak at a local library about his book, Google Your Family Tree. I have to be honest, I've known about Dan's book since it was released, and had wondered in the past why he chose to write on this topic, and also why genealogists would want to buy such a book. But hearing Dan talk about the subject, and seeing the audience reactions, made me realize that I've really taken Google (and searching techniques) for granted.

I especially love the subtitle of Dan's book, "Unlock the Hidden Power of Google." It's a great reminder of how much genealogy research, especially in the online world, is truly an "adventure." And just like Indiana Jones in the movies, genealogists need the skills necessary to filter through the enormous amount of information on the Internet and avoid those poisonous darts (i.e. overwhelming search results) that frustrate us.

The talk last night was sponsored by the Family History Interest Group (FHIG) of Bernards Township Library, and the Morris Area Genealogy Society (MAGS), and was a packed room full of avid genealogists equally curious to learn some of Dan's "secrets" about the all-too-familiar Google search engine. The crowd was quiet for the first thirty minutes, or so, as Dan covered some of the basics to ensure everyone understood the essential components of Google. Then the "oohs" and "aahs" started, as Dan revealled some of his favorite tips for filtering results.

Oh sure, I bet you were hoping that I'd spill the beans and share Dan's top tips. No such luck, there's no shortcut to becoming a better search engine user. Dan's talk was just the tip of the iceburg, and you really need to dig into his book (most folks I've talked to say every time they pick up their copy and re-read certain chapters, they learn something new).

Bravo to Dan for taking on the challenge of making all genealogists better online sleuths. I now see how his efforts will benefit all information providers (small and large), by teaching genealogists to find what they are looking for more efficiently. Genealogists often speculate that the information they need to break down their brickwalls is "out there" somewhere. Why not spend $34.95 and purchase this book to gain the skills needed to actually find it!

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