Saturday, September 12, 2009

Technology helps FamilySearch hit major milestone

FamilySearch volunteers expect to have transcribed more than 325 million names by the end of 2009, just three years after the organization began its online indexing program," according to an article in today's Deseret News, "Technology helps FamilySearch hit major milestone."

The milestone was a number once thought impossible to reach in such a short period of time. In 2006, a few thousand volunteers indexed only 11 million names. But thanks to continuing advances in technology and a growing number of volunteers -- more than 100,000 across five continents -- an estimated half million individual names are indexed each day. At that rate, Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager, expects that 500 million names will be transcribed by the end of 2010.

The article goes on to explain the scope of the work and the technological innovation driven by the need of efficient methods. I was struck by two quotes, in particular:

"With the technological advances and the ever-increasing number of indexing volunteers, the Ellis Island historical records -- which a decade ago took 12,000 volunteers 12 years to complete -- would take three weeks to index today. "

"The records FamilySearch contains currently, when digitized, would equal 132 Libraries of Congress or 18 petabytes of data -- and that doesn't include our ongoing acquisition efforts."

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