Episode 14 – Tim Cross of FamilySearch.org On The SItes Millionth Photo Upload

podcast episode Oct 21, 2013

Fisher talks about Ancestry.com’s exciting announcement concerning their latest upgrade to their DNA results.  Plus, two World War I related stories.  One has to do with the discovery of a mysterious box in a church in Ireland which contained images of over 130 local young men who went off to fight in the War To End All Wars. Guest Tim Cross from FamilySearch talks about the excitement over the millionth photo being uploaded on the site since accepting them back in January. Tom Perry then talks preservation.

Transcript of Episode 14

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 14

Fisher: Hello genies it’s Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher brought to you by TMC, The MultiMedia Centers preserving your memories for over 40 years. And this segment is brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history resource. Call 877 537 2000. And we have a lot of ground to cover today. First, FamilySearch.org only launched their photo and stories department earlier this year and recently got their 1000 000th (one million) photo uploaded to the site available for all to see and share for free, so this is awesome news. We’re going to visit with Tim Cross from FamilySearch.org in a few minutes and he’ll fill us in on all that’s happening in this area. With Family Search it is going to be fun. He’s also shared with me some really unusual pictures that were posted on Family Search that you’ll enjoy seeing. We’ll be linking them to ExtremeGenes.com later in the hour, so check them out. Last week’s poll results about Find A Grave, I am not alone apparently. Last I checked our poll 89% of us have made discoveries using Find A Grave. Of course we asked the question because Find A Grave was recently sold to Ancestry.com. And we had Jim Tipton its founder on the show. And if you missed it by the way Jim was fantastic, a real visionary who will still be running the Find A Grave Show for Ancestry. Check out Episode 13 of the podcast on iTunes to hear that visit. It’s also linked to ExtremeGenes.com of course. Today’s poll is to get us ready for Halloween. “Have you ever been visited by a ghost?” Can’t say that I have but maybe you have. If so, don’t only answer the poll, call our Extreme Genes “Find Line” at 1-234-56 Genes and record your story for us or email me at [email protected]. We’d love to hear about it and share and no, your name does not have to be used.

Now, on to this week’s Histoire News, well, I think this week’s announcement from Ancestry concerning the upgrade of their DNA area is more significant than you might think at first glance. As Ancestry.com continues to sample the remotest regions of the world your Autosomal DNA matches are getting more and more specific. For instance, among my own results my Scandinavian numbers which were recently at 57% are now at 48% but showing 2% Finnish Russian and a much higher percentage of Western European. African matches now take you to several regions and countries within Africa. There’s even now a segment for what they call “trace regions,” areas of the world some of your DNA comes from that are minimal. For instance, I had less than 1% from the Iberian Peninsula. If you have an Ancestry.com account and haven’t visited your DNA profile lately, now is a good time. And by the way, if you’ve done tests in the past you don’t have to do them again. It’s simply an ongoing upgrade of your tests results. And next week by the way we’re going to have our DNA Authority Dr Scott Woodward who works with Ancestry.com’s DNA department to go through more of this with us. It is fascinating stuff and another piece of the puzzle in understanding who we are and where we came from.

We’ve got a couple of WWI era stories. They’re on ExtremeGenes.com this week. The first one comes from Northern Belfast. You know how these things go. There’s always a “mysterious box” and in this case it was found by Faye Bell at the Alexandria Presbyterian Church. Now the box was in a loft high up behind the church organ and Faye said, “I’m a member of the church committee. And I was putting candles up in there after a service.” And that’s when she spotted the box. It was loaded with 77 what they call lantern slide images, containing portrait photos of 136 local servicemen from the WWI era, all of them unidentified. And after much research it was determined that these pictures were a way to commemorate the service of their boys and were taken a by a well-known photographer of that era. Now Faye has a daughter Karen O’Rourke who is very much, I love that, Karen O’Rourke; she’s very much into family history research. And they decided to go to town in finding out who those local boys were. So they started with Faye’s great uncle. Yeah, they found him Thomas Robinson and they now have names for 20 of the 136 portraits. Thomas by the way was from Mountcollyer in Northern Ireland, came home on leave, married and went back to the Front where he was killed six weeks later in August of 1917. So for Faye and Karen this was already a personal success. They have now posted the images online and are looking for people with connections to their area who no longer live there, and are asking them to review the pictures to see who else might be identified. It’s a great project especially with the Centennial of the beginning of WWI at hand. See the full story and the photo links at ExtremeGenes.com.

Our Second WWI story comes from Canada where a really old 3D Verascope Stereo Camera that was offered at a retirement sale had something really fun with it. Yeah it belonged to the French Army. It came in the original carrying case and had glass slides that had been taken with it. Well, the man who bought it found them to be in beautiful condition and includes several battlefield scenes in 3D. When you see them they’re just going to give you shivers. Check them out at ExtremeGenes.com. Here’s a heart warmer out of Minnesota. Back in March Dolly Hildesaker got a call from a woman in Texas. Now the caller identified only as C. Pennington had found an engraved silver set in an antique store and bought it. Well she asked Mrs Hildesaker who’s a widow who lost her husband of 63 years just last year if the names A & M Hildesaker meant anything to her as those were the names engraved on the sugar bowl. Well she responded that they did, that they were her late husband’s grandparents. And then she asked her about a date that was also on the sugar bowl, December 1st 1888. Well, Dolly had no idea what that date meant. Well, Pennington had once received a photo of a family farm from somebody who had gone to the trouble to locate her and she had always determined that in the same circumstance she would do the same. So when she found the silver set she decided this would be a great opportunity to pay it forward. Well, through Internet research and the help of people at the public library located near Dolly, Pennington had found her targeted descendant. Well, shortly after the initial call Dolly went digging and found some old papers, a marriage document for Andrew C and Maria Oersted Hildasacher with the date December 1st 1888. Yeah it was from their wedding. Pennington have the silver set back in the hands of the Hildesakers only a month after the initial contact. The family fully intends to keep it. It’s 125 years old now and tells not only the story of their ancestors’ wedding but also the tale of awesome kindness by a stranger who went to a lot of time and expense to pay it forward. The stories, the pictures are all on ExtremeGenes.com

Next, the story of an 80-year old man who never knew a family member, P J Holland was raised in an orphanage near Cincinnati after being born to an unwed mother. Well, on People’s Day he was the only child not to have someone come to visit him at the orphanage because he had no relatives. Well, sixteen he ran away, lied about his age, joined the army and became a paratrooper. When that part of his life came to an end, he returned to the Cincinnati area where he was taken in by a family which then essentially became his family. Well, a lady named Marilyn Souders was a part of that family and to her Holland was always Uncle PJ. She devoted much of her life to trying to find PJ’s family. Even family vacations were devoted to research. Her kids were even recruited into helping in the hunt. She even trained them how to use Microfiche. In time, she learned that PJ’s mother’s name was Agnes but though that was pretty much about it. Well, as part of her efforts Marilyn had PJ take a DNA test. One morning notice of a match showed up in her email. An aspiring actress in New York taking kind of a cue from Angelina Jolie had taken a DNA test even though this test had obviously nothing to do with genetic health concerns. Well, she and PJ were a close match. Yeah, so Catherine the actress was in touch with PJ within hours but it took Marilyn to help her understand the significance of this discovery that she was the first relative he had ever spoken to in his 80 years. Catherine called her father who well remembered PJ’s mother Agnes as a somewhat mysterious woman who had left the family only to correspond intermittently over many years. Now Catherine and her father knew why, an illegitimate child that being of course PJ Holland. Well, a short time after making the connection Catherine and her father flew to Dallas where PJ now lives in an assisted living center so he can be close to Marilyn. At 80 years old it was the first family member he had ever met in person. And this link comes by the way with a great news report video that just might make you cry, so you’ve been warned. And just a reminder, if you have a great story you’d like to share, call our Extreme Genes “Find Line” at 1-234-56 Genes. That’s 1-234-56 Genes. We’re only on the air an hour a week but the “Find Line” is open 24/7 for your stories, comments and questions and we’re always happy to get back to you. This segment was brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history resource. Call 877 537 2000, coming up next, Tim Cross from FamilySearch.org on the free website’s wildly successful new photo and story feature on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 14

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tim Cross

Fisher: And welcome back. It’s Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth brought to you by TMC the MultiMedia Centers preserving your memories for over forty years. Tim Cross from FamilySearch.org welcome to the show Tim.

Tim: Thank you. I enjoy being here. I appreciate you having me on to talk about photos and stories on Family Search.

Fisher: Well, we’ve got a lot going on with that right now. 1 millionth, we’ve just had this what, about three or four weeks ago, your 1 millionth photograph went up. I saw the old codger. What was it Enic? 

Tim: Ephraim.

Fisher: Ephraim. Okay. 

Tim: From Wallsburg. He was great. We were all anticipating that millionth photo and we were wondering if it was going to be suitable for what we did and when Ephraim came through we all thought that he’s perfect. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

Time: He’s exactly what we were looking for. And a lot people relate to Ephraim. 

Fisher: Well, wait a minute what would have been an inappropriate photograph do you think [laughs] from what you were trying to do to promote it, a cocktail party? [Laughs]

Tim: Well, it’s actually interesting. We have all different kinds that come through.

Fisher: Right.

Tim: And all the way from things that are interesting to things that are glamorous. We actually have... I pull off ones that are interesting and save them for presentations and such.

Fisher: Sure.

Tim: All the way from an ancestor that’s riding an elephant to ancestors that are riding ostriches.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Tim: And different things that way, and Ephraim just kind of fit, a little bit conservative, but very colourful in his face expressions.

Fisher: He is, isn’t he? And it looks like it’s a good solid photo didn’t need a lot of work. 

Tim: Yep.

Fisher: And where is from? Where did you say?

Tim: From Wallsburg, Utah. 

Fisher: Wallsburg, Utah. Okay that’s great. And so you’ve got a million. How long did it take because you only started taking photographs was it earlier this year or late last year?

Tim: It’s actually an interesting story there. A year ago this time all these things were just concepts on white boards and conference rooms. And as we started progressing through it we started using a different style of trying to introduce people to get feedback early on. We actually started accepting photos about January but it was still in a beta phase. And so they were very early adopters and just a few here and there to make sure things were working. And we actually didn’t start opening it up and accepting it just about three or four months ago. 

Fisher: Three or four months. Wow, to get to the first millionth. So where are we going to be a year from now? 

Tim: I just checked this morning we’re already 1.2 million. 

Fisher: 1.2 in just three extra weeks you got another almost quarter million. 

Tim: And it’s important to understand too that I’m comparing family history photos to other photo volumes on the internet. It’s really apples and oranges there. When you look at Instagram and those types of things of catching things, pictures of breakfast and that, family history photos are really pretty sacred to individuals.

Fisher: Yes. 

Tim: And so those things that come up they are images of things that they want preserved and they want them stored and remembered about individuals that they care about. 

Fisher: And what’s great is also FamilySearch.org is a free site open to everybody. Now as I understand it, you can see the photographs at FamilySearch.org without even signing in so you don’t even need an account, is that correct?

Tim: Yes it is. That’s one of the key things that we looked at when we were doing photos and stories is we wanted to make sure to provide everyone the opportunity to remember their ancestors and to be able to share them freely. And if you look at social sites and things that way, if it’s behind a login wall you really can’t share things freely. So we wanted everyone who wanted to see and discover and learn about their ancestors to be able to come on to FamilySearch.org without having to login. And then if they discover something interesting, we wanted them to be able to share that out on to Facebook with other family members and share that out on to Pinterest. 

Fisher: Right. 

Tim: Even tweet it on Twitter if that’s what they did.

Fisher: So you have that access now to do all those because I haven’t done that yet. I’ve put some photos up and I really wanted to be the millionth, Tim. It was just, “Should I do it now? Should I wait five minutes?” It was so close. What was the prize by the way? [Laughs]

Tim: We’re actually working on that. We have contacted the contributor and we were very excited.

Fisher: You were thinking about doing one? I’m just kidding.

Tim: We working on hooking up with them and doing something there.

Fisher: Maybe a big cheque you know? Tickets to something, I don’t know. 

Tim: We’ll have to see.

Fisher: All right. You can go to the social networking with it. Also online now I remember something about what is it, a gold bar up in a corner if you go on to a site and click for photographs of your people, because it is a shared site. I mean there’s a big difference between you two big behemoths, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. Obviously Ancestry is a paid site you are not. But you also have one tree that everybody works on together, whereas Ancestry has separate trees for every individual who’s a subscriber. Both bring a lot to the table but in this case because you’re putting up a photograph on the tree, the one tree, this will be shared basically with anybody and everybody who ties in, yes?

Tim: Yes. So that’s one of the very unique ways that we actually share information on Family Search is the tree that you described. In fact, social sites and the internet has really kind of launched photos and things out for people to discover, and we do that. You can go ahead and publish your photos and stories on the internet. You can tag or identify who’s who in the photos and stories and then share those broadly. But one unique way to be able to share now is, as you identify individuals in your photos and stories and you say that they are this person in the tree, now the ability for anybody who logs in and connects themselves into the Family Search’s family tree, they’re able to discover the photos and stories just simply by being descendents of those individuals. So when you log in and you click find out about your ancestors, find photos of your ancestors, the instant you click that button it starts with you, with your parents, with your grandparents, great grandparents, and for each time it goes you check one down. So it’s checking aunts and uncles as well. And if any of them have photos and stories that have been published about them, they’re presented back to you in a form that’s by person so that you can discover and learn who your ancestors are and like you mentioned, the little gold ribbon, if you click on that you can discover exactly how you’re related to them. And then by clicking on that portrait image, you discover all the other rich media and information that others have published, which is pretty exciting. I’ve watched several individuals go through that process of discovering them. Every time I sit down with someone they click on that for the first time, they always turn to me and go, “So are these all my ancestors?” And I explain to them yes, all you have to do is click the little yellow ribbon. They click on it and they discover how they’re related to that particular individual. Then they click into it and they discover the photos and I just about lose them. They stop talking to me and they start looking at the photos and they start reading the stories and it really draws them in.    

Fisher: Isn’t that great? And really, we’re just at the beginning of this because I know there are so many lines that haven’t really been fixed up too much yet. There’s a lot yet to be done.

Tim: That’s another one of the powerful features of it is when you go in and you could find photos of your ancestors and you see all the individuals who are there. A lot of individuals will step back and go, “Hey, wait a minute, so and so is not in here.” 

Fisher: Um hmm.

Tim: And they go, “I have photos and stories of them. And so by using the system it’s neat to be introduced and learn about photos and stories of your ancestors, but it also calls out that certain photos or stories that you may know about are not in the system and they need to be put in the system to ensure that those photos and stories will be remembered. And those ancestors will be remembered.

Fisher: We’re talking to Tim Cross from FamilySearch.org which has just got its 1millionth photograph posted on the free website. And Tim, people can get photographs from other places. Now, what is the concern that anybody should have about the rights to a certain photograph that is very old? I would assume that a person who dates back, say to the 19th century, you can take that from somewhere in all likelihood and be safe to have it on the website. And what does the website do to make sure that, you know, these are not copyrighted photographs or something along those lines?

Tim: So before anyone can upload any of the photos, it’s part of our user agreement to make sure that you have done due diligence in any images that you post and we don’t infringe on any copyright regulations and things that way. If it’s in question and an individual does happen to publish something that does infringe on the copyright and someone discovers that, we do have a feature that is just a click away called Report Abuse. And when someone reports that we go ahead and we bring those images down and mitigate those things for them.

Fisher: Which is probably pretty rare, isn’t it?

Tim: It actually is. Those that are involved in family history and genealogy are really good about honoring copyright codes and things that way. Normally we do contact the individuals that have the rights to publish those images.

Fisher: And so is this something that you could do? You know, say someone is 90 years old and she found a picture of her grandfather that happened to be in something that somehow is still under copyright and she posted it up there and that came back, is that something you could mitigate for her?

Tim: Certainly. We would go ahead and contact, it’s really based on the individual that reports the abuse. And we would contact them and discover what the abuse is and we would follow through to see if they couldn’t talk with the individual who actually posted it to see what they need to go through to have the rights to be able to publish that so all their other descendents can discover and learn about that particular ancestor.

Fisher: So tell us about some of the stories that have taken place as a result of some of these photographs going up, stories of discovery, stories of individuals that folks hadn’t known.

Tim: So one of the exciting things that I’ve discovered in my own personal experience, I publish photos of my great grandfather out there. And he had siblings that were in the photos and I published some photos of my great uncle. And a distant relative I hadn’t even met before placed a comment on there. This is my great uncle Rex. I hadn’t seen any photos of him. Thank you very, very much for publishing this photo of my great uncle Rex. His red hair is incredible and is seen through all his descendents.

Fisher: And you didn’t know who this individual was? 

Tim: No.

Fisher: Okay.

Tim: And we see a fair amount through the comments. We’re seeing publishing of comments. In fact, one of the patterns that individuals will do is often times they’ll thank whoever publish the photo or story about their ancestor and then they’ll describe how they’re related so that they actually through their dead ancestors they make a living connection.

Fisher: Living connection which can be great maybe for reunions down the line or something like that.

Tim: Through reunions or also just something that they share in common, their common ancestor. And it creates a bond between living individuals that didn’t exist before.

Fisher: And what about identifying pictures that are difficult to identify? I have for instance an old bible from my wife’s side that goes back to the 1870s. It’s filled with photographs, even Tintypes in there where I can guess who that person might be based on the age and the place and whose bible it was, but we don’t have any idea on that person. Is this going to be a useful tool? 

Tim: I think so. Another piece of it is a feature called Album. In fact, one of the practices that we’re seeing is as individuals are organizing by album one common album that most everyone create is an album of unknown individual. 

Fisher: Awesome!

Tim: And as they go through and they’ll identify everybody they see in the photos. If they don’t see someone they’ll go and add that photo image to this album of unknown individuals and then they’ll circulate the link to that album to anyone they can find in their family and then have their family share that on Facebook and other places to get as many people as possible during that time and location to review those images of people they just don’t know. And then other individuals can come and actually tag and identify who are in those photos.

Fisher: Maybe they have another photograph that’s been marked back in the day. They could tie something in like that.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Tim: To enhance the story there.

Fisher: Wow!  What a great tool. This is just going to grow and grow and grow over time.

Tim: It should.

Fisher: Absolutely. All right we’re going to take a break, we’re going to come back and we’re going to find out what is ahead for photos and stories on FamilySearch.org with Tim Cross on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 14

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tim Cross

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. I’ve got my guest Tim Cross from FamilySearch.org. The photo and stories department, how many departments are there anyway, over there? 

Tim: So, Family Search has several different emphases all the way from indexing to the tree, to photos and stories and also for the researcher individuals on the wiki, and there’s an entire group devoted to the search engine because that’s very, very important. It allows us to pull back all the records. And also, the digital pipeline of being able to process all the records when we go out in the different parts of the world to digitize the images and to be able to curate and then publish them on the site, get them indexed and searchable. 

Fisher: So how many people do you have in the department as a whole, roughly? 

Tim: The department as a whole depends on how you slice it so it’s hard to gage because it extends out into our support representatives which then also extends out into volunteer missionaries and their support.

Fisher: Right.

Tim: So it’s very worldwide. I really couldn’t put a number on the organization that large. The photos and stories group is made up of a group of engineers and individuals who are very talented, about 20 to 30 individuals there.

Fisher: Wow! And then how many volunteers do you have working right now?

Tim: Volunteers throughout the world that’s actually not my expertise.

Fisher: Okay.

Tim: We would have an individual who oversees support and those things that when you call in they’re able to pick up. We also add into the family history centers those individuals that work those centers.

Fisher: Just gazillions. It’s awesome what’s happening. So during the break [Laughs] you were telling me about the screening process because you know there’s a lot of folks out there. You can’t see everything except you guys make an effort to do exactly that to make sure that nothing inappropriate goes up there. And tell us about that process.

Tim: So one of the reasons that photos has taken so long to be on Family Search, everyone has wanted photos about their ancestors and have them preserved. We wanted to do this for a long time. However, with Family Search we wanted to ensure that no inappropriate content would come up. And so we implemented a process that actually goes through seven layers of screening and there are actually human eyes that look at each of the seven layers starting out from modesty and pornography all the way down to vulgarity and advertisements and mutilation, different things that way on each different layer that comes through. And if it doesn’t meet the acceptance criteria we’ll get flag disc restricted and the individual that uploaded will see a little restricted message letting them know it’s restricted. 

Fisher: What does that mean exactly, restricted?

Tim: It simply means that it didn’t meet the criteria to be able to be published on the site. In fact, swimsuit was one of the things that we had to deal with earlier on. Earlier on we felt like we’re absolutely not going to allow like any swimsuits and then you can imagine the 1920/1930 swimsuits coming through.  

Fisher: For sure.

Tim: And we said, “Wait a minute, there’s a lot of family history value here. We need to let those through.

Fisher: Yes.

Tim: And so we softened that to be more adhered toward modesty. And it’s a little bit difficult because our screeners need to have a judgement call on that as to what’s modest and what’s not. And so when patrons upload and if it happens to get restricted and patrons don’t feel like it should they can actually call support and it gets escalated and the administrator will go out and review the image itself and then go ahead and let it through if it does seem appropriate.

Fisher: Well, I would think though if you’re dealing with pictures like that now they’re not that rare. You can get a different picture of that person.

Tim: Yes.

Fisher: It’s probably not that big a deal, but ultimately you went through you were telling me [Laughs] of this one very unique photograph, tell them about it.

Tim: Yeah, so I randomly sample images after they come through just to make sure that our screening is staying up to standard and also as I do different presentations and conferences around the world that I will pull off certain images that look interesting. I don’t use this particular one, but there was a family group that I was looking at that did not get restricted, but the individual right in the middle of a group of about fifteen family members didn’t look quite right.              

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tim: And as I looked a little bit closer what happened was the family hadn’t had a photo of this particular ancestor before. And it was actually as a part of the funeral and they had tilted the coffin of the individual up and everybody stood around and had one last photo taken with this particular individual.

Fisher: [Laughs] So there’s grandpa in the middle and everybody on either side. He’s in the box?

Tim: He’s actually. They tilted the box before they did so. They were able to put him up, identify him, identify all the family members and have that searched.

Fisher: So when you identify the pictures there, is it just in the title and the description or do you actually do it on the photo itself, circle the face, because I have not done that.

Tim: So it’s actually tagging which is where you put the circle right on the face, and through the tagging that’s an exciting process because as we went into homes people would naturally do this. I spent a number of hours going into people’s homes and asking them, “Show me photos of your family and ancestors” and they would bring out their albums and they would start pointing to individuals and identifying who they were. And I could always tell a genealogist because they would have more of a formal name.

Fisher: Right, right.

Tim: He would be John Tom Brown.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Tim: And there’s John Tom Brown again.

Fisher: And the other ones are like, “Here’s Johnny.” [Laughs]

Tim: Exactly, exactly. And so we wanted to make sure that was flexible enough to put the software on the site so that if you actually upload your photos and you have identified Johnny as in the photo, as long as you’re consistent, it all work.  So, if you identify him as Johnny on photo 1, Johnny on photo 2, Johnny on photo 3, the system now knows that Johnny has been identified in all those photos. And then when you associate Johnny to the tree, now the entire community and the whole world know that John Tom Brown who that person identified him as Johnny, those are all photos of John Tom Brown.

Fisher: The same person.

Tim: Exactly.

Fisher: So, could you actually wind up with two different threads of the same individual because of the way people list it, or could you just tie it into the name on the tree? 

Tim: The tree resolves all of that. The tree answers the question, “Are we talking about the same individual?” And so you could upload photos if we had a common ancestor. I could upload photos of that common ancestor and call him Tom. You could upload photos of that common ancestor and you could call him Thomas, but when we hook into the tree he was Tommy Brown, Thomas Joseph Brown. We would know that your photos and my photos they are the same person. And we would discover all the photos and information about that particular ancestor.

Fisher: He’s Tim Cross from FamilySearch.org. We’re talking about the photos and stories feature which really just got going a few months ago, just had your millionth photograph posted a few weeks back. What’s the future of all this Tim?

Tim: The future’s exciting. We’ve had a number of requests to be able to upload source documents. And we have a number of historical documents come through and indexed them, but individuals who have their own source documents can now upload them and tag individuals that are in the documents, as well as doing PDFs and in the future possibly audio and video. The key thing that we’re trying to figure out with audio and video is being able to screen and make sure everything is appropriate. But PDFs will be allowed here in the next month and the exciting thing about PDFs is the number of individuals will scan small books or different things like photos, stories in context and be able to identify who is in them, which then allows the other cousins or distant relatives when they discover them, to learn about their ancestors in changing, in great different ways. 

Fisher: Do you see any collaboration with Ancestry.com in your efforts in the photo area? 

Tim: In the particular photo area, we’re right on the cuff, Ancestry had an interesting acquisition with the thousand memories and building that. They’re doing great things with their mobile app, and we are looking to hook in and collaborate more and more on the tree things, which then also leads into photos and stories. So we’ll just have to look for that.

Fisher: And what about software that can help you identify unidentified photographs?

Tim: So one of the exciting things is out in the social world, the Face Detection and then also Face Recognition. We’re always looking at that to make the tagging in the identification of those individuals much easier. And all that is on play, it’s a bright future. 

Fisher: Coming up there. I know Brock Bierman was here not long ago and he was talking about his PhotoFaceMatch.com website which does great work with that. But it’s very early in the game with it in many ways. Is your software that you’re seeing, is this going to be able to determine things such as age, or measure the face that you know maybe somebody has got a completely different weight at a certain time in life and be able to compensate for those differences to identify a face? 

Tim: Yes, what we’re seeing with face recognition we’re seeing some different patterns that can be put in place to detect that this individual possibly belongs to this family, looks very similar to you. Picasa was one of the great leaders with that when they introduced their Desktop application in doing face recognition and pattern matching all the photos that you have. Family Search introduces a different paradigm of matching photos across the entire system and things there, but there’s a lot of work going on with Google and other technologies.

Fisher: Unless you all work together at some point.

Tim: Yes.

Fisher: It’s unbelievable. Where are we in five years? I mean, that’s the question that’s so cool about all this stuff. Tim thanks so much for coming by. It’s been enlightening, interesting and fun and we can’t wait to see what you guys do next over at FamilySearch.org

Tim: Thank you very much.

Fisher: And by the way, we’ve got them up now on ExtremeGenes.com, a couple of those bizarre pictures that Tim was just talking about that were added to FamilySearch.org in the not too distant past and they are funny. And coming up next Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. He’s going to be talking about QR Codes and Memory Medallions making your loved ones gravestones more than just a gravestone, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.   

Segment 4 Episode 14

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It’s brought to you by TMC, The MultiMedia Centers, preserving your memories for over forty years. And this segment is brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history resource, call 877 537 2000. It’s your Radio Roots Sleuth, Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Tom is our Preservation Expert on all kinds of things. And one of the things I've seen out there in the market Tom, are these what do they call them, memory medallions.

Tom: Correct.

Fisher: And I'm starting to see more and more of them. Give us a little background, the history of these things. How long have they been around, how do they work, where is this thing going?

Tom: They've been around I guess for about 4, 5 years. Basically what they're a QR code. And QR codes have been around for like centuries.

Fisher: Okay, QR codes are like those funky, they look like artistic renderings or something.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And if you flash your Smartphone on, it’s supposed to pick it up and take you to a website or something along those lines, right?

Tom: Exactly, right. Yeah, that's what we're using them for now. You know, years and years ago, UPS has been using these for years as a routing thing. So when it goes and scans in those, "This goes into this truck. This goes into this truck. This goes into this truck."

Fisher: Is it like a barcode?

Tom: Well, yeah, it’s a barcode on steroids so to speak.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs] Yeah.

Tom: It just has so much information. I mean, it’s just absolutely amazing the information they can put on that. In fact, they're getting the information so much tighter now, some people are actually printing their logo in the center of it and there's still enough information around their logo to be able to still have what they need to send it someplace.

Fisher: Wow that sounds practical!

Tom: Oh it is! Oh it’s very much so.

Fisher: So I was up at a cemetery not long ago and I actually saw one on a tombstone.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And I thought, that's fun! So flashed the Smartphone on it, took me to a website and I learned about the person who was on the tombstone.

Tom: Exactly. Glenn Toothman out in Pittsburgh is the one that actually developed this for going on tombstones, headstones, whatever you want to call them. And so he's the one that introduced it to me. And when you buy one through him, you can get them through us on our website. You can go to MemoryMedallion.com and get them straight from them. A lot of different dealers sell them. But if you buy one of the authentic ones, it’s kind of setup in perpetuity, just like a cemetery plot would be. So when you get it set up, you don't have to worry about some business going out of business and then it doesn't work anymore.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: So it’s actually setup forever.

Fisher: What a great idea!

Tom: Oh it is! It’s amazing.

Fisher: So what kind of material, is the website then owned by the business, do you own the website, who maintains that site, what do you put in there?

Tom: Okay. Well, it’s just like a cemetery.

Fisher: All right.

Tom: The cemetery or Memory Medallion Incorporated actually owns the server that it’s on and it redundant. Its backed up on, you know, the cloud and different things like that. So if they went down, its other places as well. So basically think of the memory medallion as a cemetery. So it’s there and then you just decide what goes in it, you know. You decide, you know, what the person that you plant so to speak in the cemetery's wearing. On this, you decide what goes on it. It’s basically like a website, so you can go in there and add photos, you can add audio, you can add video, you're pretty much unlimited to what you want to do. Anything you can put on a website, you can put on this. We've had some customers come in that they have like, you know twenty or thirty people that are in cemeteries in their family and they use the exact same QR code on everybody's headstone and it goes to their family website.

Fisher: I see. So you can cover more than one person with the same thing.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Is the cost less to do it that way?

Tom: Oh yeah! Yeah, if you buy the first one, they generally run about $75. We've had them on sale, you know, during the holidays for $50. And so if somebody wants the exact same one with the exact same code on it, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th or whatever, are about half the price.

Fisher: Half the price. So you would get then a username for this website.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And a password.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Okay, now what happens when it’s my turn to join the gang?

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] And now, nobody has access to it, or is this something where you have to kind of make sure that the password is left to those who follow you to have access to that?

Tom: Exactly. Just like your email account. You know, I just recently gave everything to my sister. I'm getting ready to go to Peru. And just in case something happens, she has access to all my stuff, all my website stuff, everything. It’s the exact same thing. You give whoever's going to be the one to run your estate so to speak, the password and all that kind of information if you want to. Now let me tell you an interesting story. We had a lady come in that says, "You know, I want to get one of these memory medallions, you know, for myself and I want to be able to go in and do all this stuff." She says, "What happens after I'm gone with the, you know, website?"

Fisher: Wait a minute! So she was basically, probably buying her stone.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And her name's on it and the birth date’s in and there's the dash in the blank spot.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And then she's putting the medallion on She's creating her own memorial, is this what you're saying?

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: Right, yeah, you know what exact, she has her own tombstone already made up. She's got the little spot drilled in it. She wants this to be like flush with the monument that are on top like some are.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: And so she says, "What happens when I die?" And says, "Well, you can, you know give the codes to whoever you want. They can go in and alter it or do whatever you want. She says, "Uh uh uh, I don't want them to touch this when I'm gone. I don't want my family to have any access to it." I says, "Well, then just, you know, don't give anybody your password, tell them that's what you want, put it in your Will, you don't want anybody to have access to it. And we'll put a little, you know, marker on our website, so if somebody comes in and says, "You know, Jane Smith is my mother. She didn't leave us the access to the memory medallion and we want to change it." we'll have a little red flag there that say, "uh uh, can't be given to anybody."

Fisher: So basically the password dies with the individual.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: It would be in her cold, dead hands.

Fisher: Wow! Now these are used on tombstones, but I would imagine there are other applications for them.

Tom: Oh, there are so many applications. Something new comes up every day. We have people that have like fine art collections and they buy one of these and put on, you know, like if they have a Morne or Renoir or anything like that. And so somebody that's you know, visiting their home or whatever that has a Smartphone, they can hold it up, you know, click on it and it will go in and tell them how they obtained it, you know, who did the painting, what time period it was, whether it was with the dark ages, whatever and go into some, you know, interesting information about it just like you're touring a museum.

Fisher: Who programs the medallion then? Well, two things in my head here, number one, can you create your own website to access from the medallion?

Tom: Absolutely.

Fisher: Really? So you could direct one of these things to that.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Or you could do it to these, I guess the cemetery version where it lasts forever and somebody else maintains it.

Tom: Right. And that will be around forever, regardless of what you do. So what you can do is, when you set it up on Glenn's website on MemoryMedallion.com, when you set it up, you can have a little clickable that says "go to our family page" or whatever, so somebody just clicks that and then they leave the memory medallion website and go to your own website.

Fisher: Okay. So you would have access always and easily that way or your descendants would.

Tom: Exactly. In fact, if you buy the basic version, not only can you upload, you know some photos and different things like this, you have a place where you can put links down the right hand side to go to FamilyHistory.com or any place you want you can put links. But if you don't want to do that, you want just one link to yours, you can automatically have the page forward to your family history site or whatever. So it’s pretty much unlimited what you can do with this.

Fisher: All right. Now you said there were still more applications.

Tom: Exactly. There's a lot of historical places all around the world. You know, whether they're historical sites from World War I, II whatever, they have tour guides that can go and take you through the buildings. What if they're closed on the weekend? What about they close at 5 or 6 o’clock and you're driving through some place at, you know, 2 in the morning and you see, "Oh, hey, this is cool." nobody's there. Well, a lot of these places are buying these memory medallions and putting them on, you know, homes or rocks or whatever is the historical thing. You can take your own self guided tour with your Smartphone or your iPad, as long as you have a signal.

Fisher: Any hour of the day or night then.

Tom: Oh yeah, 24/7. As long as you have a signal that's fine. And another thing with that, even if you don't have a signal, you can shoot the QR codes and you can download the QR readers for free off, you know iTunes or wherever. You can actually save the QR codes and then when you get home or you get back to your signal, then you can activate them and then you can take the self guided tour from your living room.

Fisher: Wow! What an interesting thought. Now what about billboards? I've heard of the discussion of putting QR codes up on billboards.

Tom: Oh absolutely.

Fisher: So that people could just take a picture of the billboard and then access it. Would it work that way?

Tom: Oh absolutely. If it was on a billboard and it’s big enough, you could take your Smartphone and it'll, you know, register right on it. You don't have to have, in the old days, you have to be pretty accurate, now you can be on an angle and stuff and still get it. In fact, on all of our brochures and our cards, we have QR codes right on it. So if somebody wants to go to our main website, they just click it, it goes to TMCPlace.com. If they want to go straight to information about audio transfers, video transfers, film transfers, there's a separate QR code for every single one of those.

Fisher: It’s amazing where it’s all going. Any thoughts about what may yet come with these?

Tom: Well, they're talking about 3D QR codes. I don't know exactly how they're going to work, but some of the, you know, rumors that are going through the vine right now are like, "Okay, now this is going to be really trick."

Fisher: [Laughs] He's the Preservation Authority on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. By the way, if you want to ask Tom a question, just email [email protected]. Tom thanks for joining us.

Tom: Thank you Fisher.

Fisher: That's about it for this week. Thanks once again to Tim Cross from FamilySearch.org. Check out the great pictures he supplied us. They are linked to our website, ExtremeGenes.com. This segment was brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history research, call 877 537 2000. Next week, Dr. Scott Woodward, our DNA authority from Ancestry.com rejoins us, talking about the latest advances that Ancestry recently announced. You can also ask him some questions. You have a little time to prepare. You can send those in by calling our Find Line at 1-234-56-GENES or you can email me at [email protected]. Talk to you next week on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. This has been a Fisher Voice Works Production!

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