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I do not spend as much time as I would like to at the Mesa Regional Family History Center, but I regularly teach classes and help patrons. We have a lot of computers for patron use and a man and a woman came into the center and were sitting down to use a computer. I happened to be the closest missionary/volunteer and so I got the brunt of their extreme displeasure. It seems that the Center has spent considerable time re-designing their start-up screen to make it easier for patrons to find and view the online resources. Before they even looked at what was on the screen, these patrons immediately began yelling about "What happened to the old menu items?" They were both actually yelling. The man started lecturing me in a loud voice about how upsetting it was to have anything change and how they would not be able to find anything. The real fact was the start-up screen had everything they were looking for. I was stopped cold by the intensity of their reaction to something as simple as a redesigned start-up screen. Finally, the woman looked at the screen and realized that what she was looking for was right in front of her. She promptly told the man to "shut up" and started working. I decided I would do something else in another part of the Center. I was also glad I was not married to either one of them.

Upon reflection, I think this reaction is symptomatic of the entire interface between technology and people's lives today. How many genealogists out there are still using Windows 95 or 98 with the same Personal Ancestral File program they started with? How many are still using Internet Explorer? I recently heard a high placed official of FamilySearch, express the opinion that he will keep using Personal Ancestral File until it dies (or whatever). In another conversation with a volunteer at the Center, the individual explained that he didn't know anything about computers and, in fact, had retired from his job as a mechanic because the new cars had computers and he didn't want to learn about them.

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Comment by Sarah Coles on December 22, 2010 at 10:29am

James, I must say your commentary was quite interesting and made me laugh at how ridiculous people can be about "change."  I think that people who are addictive to the old way of thinking should consider how we used to do things way back before computers.  It meant arduous long journeys to libraries, cemeteries, courthouses and the like where you had to write down everything by hand!  There were no copy machines, IPads and the like to record your information.  Look how far we've come since those days and even just in the past few years New avenues have opened up for all of us through new technology.  I am always looking for new and improved ways to help with my genealogical studies and most of it can all be done now right from the comfort of your own home.  Also, I like the challenge of working with new things and recently I purchased Passage Express which sounds like an innovative way of recording your family history.  Who knows...one could become the next Ken Burns.  I have FTM Version 11, Legacy 4.0 and various other genealogy software.  I.E. is a nightmare and as soon as Firefox was available I jumped on it and never looked back.  I love Blurb books and have had some four published by them.  Just think what these people are missing!

 

Interesting and provocative post, James. 

Comment by James Tanner on December 12, 2010 at 10:47pm

Thanks, a very perceptual comment.

Comment by Daniel Johnson on December 12, 2010 at 10:23pm

Ok coming from one of the first generations to really work with computers and knowing the advantages of becoming more high tech I find this horrifying on some levels. One being that if you do not know the value of having digital images to copy of old photos and the value of getting digital copies of census records etc then you are missing a huge part of modern documentation and easy share with others of your research, Using high tech as a way to share information with others is sometimes vital. Another aspect of the computer age is that I was able to not only find a whole gang of formerly unknown family but reconnect them with members of our family via Face Book. Now a whole missing link in our family has been restored and set right by the use of High Tech. Ruling out the more modern ways to not only do your work but connecting family together would be have meant a great loss for our family. 

  Adding to this I gained a lot of missing and very rare copies of family photos from computers. I now have at least a digital copy of pictures of family members that only had one photo ever and only one or two hard copies exist. I could go on and on about the wins I have made in less than a year of researching from being high tech and from learning that change is good.

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