I like easy

I do family history. Easy is not a term I usually associate with family history. But this week is different.

As background, let me explain why an organization would go to such pains to make family history/genealogy easy. The LDS Church (aka Mormon Church) has this doctrine that we have until final judgement to choose our eternal fate. Therefore they perform saving ordinances (e.g., baptism) for folks who didn't get around to accepting these ordinances during their mortal lives.

A major problem in recent years has been folks around the world repeating proxy ordinance work. The thing is it takes 17 manhours (between travel, proxies, helpers, etc.) each time ordinance work is done for a single individual. If we pretend that people's time is worth $20/hr, that's $340. So it's just plain wasteful to be repeating work.

The second major problem is Church members not doing their genealogy because it's hard. That's actually a more pressing problem than the waste.

Anyway, the Church has invested in multiple server farms, software algorithms, and complex databases to reduce duplication and make things easy. It's being rolled out at new.familysearch.org in stages, starting with outlying LDS congregations, finishing the LDS "deployment" in Utah, then eventually opening this stuff up to everyone.

New FamilySearch became available to Church members in the DC area this week. One "that was easy" experience happened with a young mother who had asked me to help her. In an hour I'd gotten her registered on the system, and we had her family tree extended out four generations, including confirming the dates she had already on hand with references now available on the internet.

The other "that was easy" experience was on Tuesday, when I went to the temple. I took the ordinance sheet I had printed at home (like how you can print an airplane boarding pass at home). The nice little lady at the counter simply put the paper under the scanner, and the printer immediately spit out the slips we use in the temple to track what ordinance work has been completed. It was the first time this lady had used the system, and she laughed out loud, it was so easy.

Easy is good.

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