Genealogical gender imbalances and 500 munching goats

A whole gamut of articles: a post about my past focus on too many male ancestors, articles about the library and archives fields, and my new fictional narrative!

Hello everyone! I hope your week is going great so far, even with the cold weather, specifically in the D.C. metro area and likely other parts of the country.

I’d like to highlight a post I put together on November 8 on one of my genealogy blogs first and foremost. Instead of talking about something like “dragging out” genealogy information from your family, it serves as a self-analysis based on what I’d read in Jackie Hogan’s Roots Quest, a book about the genealogy (or roots) industry I just finished, which I checked out from a local library in Baltimore. Anyway, I determined that there was a gender imbalance since I was writing about too many male ancestors and not enough female ancestors. I propose ways to counter this while promising to improve this in the future. Its a very interesting exercise and I’d recommend others with genealogy blogs to do the same thing.

That brings me to some of the news for this week, specifically for the library and archives fields. Hack Library School had a number of great posts. Some focused on group projects, what should be changed about library school (everything), and burnout. There also were some interesting articles about how librarians are starting new videogame collections in American Libraries magazine and how Japan’s bookstores are in trouble, while one commentator is optimistic. In terms of the archives field, there was an article in Smithsonian magazine about how a team of 500 weed-eating goats helped eat flammable brush around the Reagan Presidential Library, creating a “fire break around the complex,” with helicopters and firefighters ensuring that the fire didn’t reach the library. I also found an article in Information Today criticizing the fact that our “growing trust in data and data-based machine learning algorithms” has led people to think that data “could replace our thinking,” which he calls “data-ism.” While noting, for instance that any effort to restrict or limit “data generation, collection, analysis, and monetization is met with disdain and dismissal,” concluding that data and algorithms are decided and implemented by people, with the proper role for such algorithms and data to “augment and empower human autonomy and agency, not to undermine and eliminate them.” This requires putting in place “proper and effective boundaries for them in order to ensure that data and algorithms always lend themselves as tools, not rule as an authority over human behavior.” A very thought-provoking article to say the least, which I tend to sympathize with.

This brings me to my new fictional narrative this week, “Rays of friendship: Peri’s three-way video chat and Adora’s crush,” a continuation of my past series, “An Unlikely Alliance Against Evildoers.” I experimented, this time, a little more with extensively using dialogue rather than story description, which actually made it much easier to write. Its a really nice and fun story about friendship, togetherness, and acceptance. I admit there aren’t any themes of archives or libraries in this one, other than a passing mention to expanding of the “archives of Etheria” and that some of the characters are “almost finished sweeping the V.I.L.E. facility for information and artifacts.” Originally, I said these objects would be part of a museum, but since I’m studying to become an archivist, its going to become an archives. There is also a slowly developing sub-story where one of the characters is going to try and delve into the records about their past, find out about their roots, so that should be fun.

That’s all for this newsletter. I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

- Burkely