Have Your 'Oh Crap' Moment
Last week, some of you had the rug pulled out from underneath your feet when you learned that Ancestry.com would no longer be supporting Family Tree Maker software. As expected many of you were upset and rightfully, you’re allowed a few minutes for an “Oh CRAP” moment.
Every year there seems to be a significant change that hits genealogists pretty hard, whether it is the discontinuation of a software program or the change of an interface of an online database, the end of a website or the merger of companies. I have no doubt that 2016 will bring new changes for genealogists. However, it’s time to embrace these changes as a good thing, as a sign that we are not a stagnant industry but an evolving one. You see, change is important and necessary, despite what many may think. Think of it like a fresh coat of paint where you store your research, it may seem frivolous but it can revive you and your research.
The backlash is not really about the discontinuation of a software product, but that it will require change on our part in our day to day life. It’s hard to embrace change, and I understand your disappointment. Of course, there is the work involved in giving your room a fresh coat of colour, but the effort is worth the reward.
Ancestry has made a business decision to forgo this program for a variety of reasons, and not all of them will be apparent to us, the consumer. For some of you, this is a devastating blow. I understand that many have been using Family Tree Maker for a long time, you're comfortable where you are. For others it is the only software program you have used and this change might be especially difficult, you don't know anything else, and it might be more like picking up and moving rather than a fresh coat of paint.
Many family historians on social media expressed their disappointment. (That's me being polite, not everyone was.) However, the lashing out is not about a software program; these emotions are rooted in our difficulty to deal with change. Many feel that Ancestry being the large company that it is should continue to support this product. However, it’s not for us to say, we don’t have the data, the information about this product and their reasons for retiring it and whether it was a good business decision or not. I’m certain Ancestry realized that there would be recoil, and many would be upset. I’m confident they weighed that against their decision. At the end of the day, the choice was made, and those of us who are using Family Tree Maker have to deal now with that change.
Change is Opportunity!
Let’s take a look at how the discontinuation of Family Tree Maker can be turned into an opportunity.
4 Opportunities to Embrace
Opportunity Number 1
You have one year before Ancestry no longer supports Family Tree Maker, and even after that, your program will still continue to work. What this means is you have plenty of time to make a change to a new program, if you so wish. More importantly, you can use that time to transition your information into a new program. You can use that time to update your family tree, clean up your sources and citations, a nice little 2016 project, don’t you think.
Opportunity Number 2
For those of you volunteering in a genealogical society, there is a chance to create some workshops to help your membership transition over and teach a new software program. It’s nice to learn something new in a group format. Bring people together and help them make the transition.
Opportunity Number 3
It may be a chance for you to look at some of the dark branches of your tree that you haven’t looked at for a while. Perhaps revisit them during your transition, maybe there is some new information out there. Maybe this change will bring new leads in your research.
Opportunity Number 4
Is it time to look at some other options for saving your family tree, online and off-line, or in cloud-based programs or a combination? Remember never keep all your eggs in one basket. Maybe this will force you to re-access how you manage your research? Make a list of what you are looking for to support your research and do some homework, look at the variety of options that are available.
Embracing change in life is important. Business cannot be stagnant, our genealogy cannot be stagnant and as human beings, we cannot be stagnant. We must be ever growing and evolving. Think back to when you began your research, some of you may have started out keeping everything in a paper file. You had to learn how to save digital files, some of you had to learn the Internet, and then you learned to use software and now the cloud. Guess what, we’re not done, we will continue to evolve. Most likely what we are using now may not resemble anything we will be using to record and preserve our family trees ten years from now.
So let’s not lash out at a company that is trying to continue to be the best it can be, instead, let’s embrace the change as an opportunity to keep learning and improving ourselves and how we research and manage our family history research.
Let’s turn a negative into a positive.
Tell me how you are going to adapt to the discontinuation of Family Tree Maker. Perhaps you don't use a family tree software program, tell us how you keep your research in order. Your positive ideas may help someone else paint a fresh perspective on this most recent change.