Saturday, June 18, 2011

Billion Graves- Helping or Hindering the Research Process?

Okay, I'll admit I love my iPhone! I was just browsing through the apps that were related to my current research on genealogy and came across one called "Billion Graves".  There is a website that is similar to Billion Graves called; what will they think of next? 

Billion Graves puts together cemetery content submitted by users for people to share. How you may ask? The contributors upload the photos of headstones to their database, and what's really cool is that the app is constantly updating your location based on your movement from from one grave to the next! So each image that is uploaded, has its' own specific location and shows where each grave is located. If one person has this app and decides to go to their local cemetery, can you imagine what this app would offer another person across the globe? Time that by the billions of people that actually own the iPhone and use the app to their advantage. You would then have access to hundreds of thousands of grave images and know exactly where they have been mapped, thanks to each user. Below is a photograph I took on Memorial Day, 2011. I couldn't imagine mapping out this cemetery without getting lost or even remembering where I had been previously. 

Punchbowl War Veteran Cemetery, Hawaii
(My Personal Collection)

What I like best about this particular app, is that once the photos have been published online, family historians and genealogists alike can help to transcribe the headstones. How is that for an easier search! But there is a downside to Billion Graves; anyone (and I do mean anyone) can edit the headstone data which could lead to a potential problem with the authenticity. Can you say human error? Misspellings? Not much more data can be included with your photo upload, apparently it's only for photos- no text files are involved. So how do they plan on the deletion of duplicate entries? If five people decide they want to go to their local cemetery and it happens to be the exact same one, they upload images to their database. How in the world would this NOT create a problem?

When I went to the site, I was disappointed to see that Scotland wasn't on the list of countries in which to choose from, but other third world countries that I had never heard of, are listed. Maybe it's only because no one in Scotland has uploaded or mapped any of the cemeteries there? 
The app is $1.99 and we do all the footwork? I'll have to think about this before I utilize this particular app. But just in case you are interested, you can download the app via the App Store.


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