[APG Public List] Historical vs Current Name Places

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 2 12:27:50 MST 2010


--- On Tue, 3/2/10, Michael John Neill <mjnrootdig at gmail.com> wrote:

> Why can't genealogy software be constructed so as to allow us to have 
> multiple names for a location, perhaps a current location name and a 
> historical location name?

     The obvious answer would be to have two separate fields, one for "original location" and another for "current location" - or whatever terminology seemed most likely to avoid confusion. Why isn't this implemented? I suspect, at least in part, because it would further complicate use of the GEDCOM standard, which does not make any allowance for such dual place names.
     The existence of standards that define how data is structured is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes it (somewhat) easier to exchange (at least most basic) data between software, eliminating a potential nightmare for anyone who decides to switch to using another program, and making it much easier to share data between users. On the other, sloppy implementation often introduces errors, major and minor, during the process of switching or sharing, _and the limitations of that standard as defined limit the flexibility and usefulness of programs written to rely on it._
     On a wider scale, the existence and evolution of standards for encoding data has long-term implications for that data's survival. It puzzles me how few genealogists seem concerned at the issues that _could_ - depending on how they are addressed - lead to the permanent loss of much of the data about current events which future genealogists and historians will depend on for any research during the period of the "Early Digital Age", or whatever they decide to label it.
                           Ray Beere Johnson II


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