Chrome Browser History Log photo edited in Picfx & Photon on iPhone.
Okay. I did a sufficient amount of a lead-in to this blog post yesterday. But to bring it all together, let me just say that it seems that many of us have already adapted some kind of system of recording where we have researched [as opposed to 'searched' and for clarification on that, look at yesterday's post] in some pretty nifty ways like employing MS Office OneNote or Evernote. And we may have already come up with a system within the genealogy database software that we currently use. And we're happy with it.
From the comments yesterday, though, I can tell that many of us are not recording our online searching ~ positives or negatives ~ in a log or form. Because if we have a positive find and have recorded the source information then recording it into a log would be redundant. And the negative searches are just not that important because the records or information availability changes rapidly online and we're in the search phase, not the research phase. [I'm generalizing and summarizing from the comments yesterday and if you don't agree, that's great. Let us know in comments below. This kind of discussion is a good and necessary part of identifying online workflow processes. =) ]
And this is where I might upset some New Agers. I would politely disagree with the thinking on negative results. They are important. It's just the thought of recording all the negative results down that we may come across in a just 3-hour period alone of online searching on a log or form completely and utterly horrifies us.
The search that comes kind of naturally [at least for me] to us New Age Genealogists who tend to do some free and uninhibited preliminary searching online can be a fast and furious kind of search, especially if it's a 3-day holiday-weekend-research-bender-and-we're-not-stopping-until-we-find-the-answer-or-narrow-down-where-the-answer-might-be-offline.
And come Sunday evening, we're bleary-eyed from too much searching, junk food, and caffeinated products [Is it possible to have too much searching, junk food, and caffeinated products while looking for our ancestors?!?], and we are tempted to jot some notes down quickly before shutting the laptop closed and passing out without marking down where we went online that weekend in a nice little log or form.
'Cause the thought of logging all that down in a form is just not possible at any point during the search phase. During the search phase, we're ripping through sites, chasing down leads, and basically we're in an online search groove, baby. And afterwards we've no clue as to exactly where we've been. We know what we found. We've a system for that. But we don't have a good system for the negative results that we might need to revisit later for a wayward brother to our great grandmother who we had no clue even existed [the brother, not the great-grandmother].
So. What to do?
Some sites like Ancestry.com keep a recent history of your searching on their site. And the links to those are in the bottom right hand corner of your Ancestry.com Home Page. [Very nice.]
But other sites don't have search histories available. At least, I couldn't find them.
But you can use your Browser History. You know. That Big Brother kinda feature that no one likes and people tend to clean out on a regular basis for various reasons? The Browser History records every single unique URL address we visited in link form as well as the date we visited each URL in the order that we visited them. [Ohmigosh, right?] And each of the 3 main browsers has a history with different features. For example, Firefox allows you to tag each line item or URL visit with tags. And Internet Explorer 9 [IE9] allows you to have the Browser History in a sidebar so that you can watch it record where you go as you go. [Which I think looks really cool.]
And I tested Ancestry.com, GenealogyBank.com, and FamilySearch.org on all 3 browsers to see exactly how the recordings look. I was pleased with how it recorded Ancestry.com's visits; extremely pleased with how it recorded GenealogyBank.com's visits; and a wee disappointed with how FamilySearch.org's visits were recorded. Why the disappointment? Because it didn't record who I was searching for on FamilySearch.org like it did for the other 2 sites. Check out the screenshot below to see what I mean. [It's the IE9 one because I like it the best for some reason. Click for a larger image.]
Now. This is a revelation. I use my Browser History all the time in this manner subconsciously in all kinds of research [not just genealogy and family history search/research], but I never thought about capturing the info in a screen capture, placing it into my note-taking system, and annotating it with some info, like, 'this is (N)' for negative results in a red font color, or something like that. You know, recording the negatives? And for that matter, recording everywhere I had been. I just woke up yesterday morning and had this Ah-ha! kind of moment. [What can I say? Sometimes the ancestors wake me up with their stories and sometimes it's the Research Fairy.]
And the more I got to thinking about it, it's kind of revealing to see how I went about my free and uninhibited online searching by looking in my browser's history log. [Can you say, "Patterns?"]
So. Tomorrow I'll have a FREE and quick video tutorial showing you the process that I've created to record these Search Logs in OneNote, Evernote, and FTM2012, and how I would annotate them quickly to suit needs. [At least my needs.]
'Cause, folks, our computers, and especially our browsers, have been recording our Search Logs all along for us...
...making it the easiest Search Log we may ever use. [Until something even better comes along. Like, you know, tomorrow.]
***UPDATE: Here's the video, "How to easily record a log of your online searches". Enjoy! =) ***