As I wait for my 23andMe genetic profiling results (on Step 4 - DNA extraction), I have been spending perhaps a little bit too much time, on the computer, with internet genealogical resources such as FamilySearch.com, and the Norfolk FHS resources, to build up my paper genealogical record. I'm impressed by the modern online resources, although I'm aware that transcriptions are always prone to error.
I've also been having a blast building up my family tree database using the free Open Source software Gramps 4.2. I'm a big fan of Open Source, and this program runs great on both Windows 7 64 bit, and on my Linux netbook. I can see where Gramps may not appeal to some novices. It's more functional than pretty, with an abundance of tabs for sources, attributes, notes, etc. It encourages me to record better quality genealogy, than I did twenty years ago with the mess of my notebooks and pieces of scrap paper. It also imports and exports GEDCOM format files with ease. Essential for safe back ups and for sharing. I can also generate reports and charts such as the above ancestor fan chart.
I'm please with how the above chart for example, has developed over the past few weeks. I still have plenty to research for free online, so it is far from completed. Still, considering that it represents a total of seven generations, I think that it is impressively complete. If the paper was true, then these name should represent where my autosomal DNA has come from over the past few hundred years.
Of course, paper genealogy is not always true. 1) mothers sometimes deceive about who the biological father is, or make a mistake, when filling out birth or baptism forms. 2) genealogists make mistakes. These errors increase the further back the records. English/Welsh censuses, give no detail before 1841, civil registration did not exist until 1837, and parish registers before 1812 are often rough notes scribbled down by the curate. Therefore, go back much before 1790, it's easy to make too much of too little source.
Genealogy is a lot of work. The general public frequently expect that they can simply print their ancestry off, with a click of a button, and perhaps a Paypal fee. It doesn't work like that. It involves years of research for most of us. However - here is the crunch. The research is the rewarding part of the journey.
So in this Binary Age, people instead opt for the instantaneous results of Genetic ancestral composition with a commercial DNA lab. 1) it is fast and easy. 2) it tells the truth. It follows DNA and SNPs, not forms or lies.
How good is it really?