Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ten Questions of the 2010 Census: What They're Asking and Why

Yes, it's time once again for the U. S. Census. Some people have a real aversion to answering census questions, and that has been true historically. Of course, for genealogists, the census past is often the cornerstone of their research. This week, in her article, "The Ten Questions of the 2010 Census: What They're Asking and Why," Rita Marshall takes a look at the 2010 census and ponders some important questions. This year's census is abbreviated, to say the least, which begs the question, what will that mean to researchers 72 years hence (when this census goes public), who will be missing key information we have come to rely on so heavily. 

Not to worry. We live in the information age. It has been said that todays' generation is the most documented generation in history. The federal government itself has enough social programs and registrations to document us cradle to grave and everything in between, and in some cases, in utero and beyond the grave, all placed into databases and searchable. Add to that the wonders of modern technology benefiting the individual, literally thousands of digital photos, movies, and voice files on the home computer; blogs for all occasions; and the proliferation of social networks revealing way too much about too many people. The data is out out there. As the author says, "Will we even still need the census as a genealogical tool by 2082?" 

But wait . . .  we may live in the information age but it's also an age of rapid change -- can these records be preserved over the decades when every 18 months or so a new technology makes the old one obsolete. Backing up your data in an age of rapid change. It's something to consider . . . sooner rather than later.

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