Friday, December 1, 2017
The Urge to Organize
That urge to organize my DNA results lists has struck again. Especially now, not only considering my expansion to consider matches beyond the fourth cousin level but also because I just sprung for a Cyber Monday sale to add a fourth DNA testing company (MyHeritage), I've got to more finely hone my system for keeping track of correspondence with all those matches.
Since I do most of my contact via email for DNA matches, I've already set up folders for each of the family members for whom I serve as administrator. Now, for five individuals times up to three testing companies—plus GEDmatch results—I'm thinking it might help to differentiate that folder system a bit more. And if I migrate any other family members' raw data to that fourth testing company, it will make sense to set up a subcategory for each company under each family member's folder.
I may be over-thinking this a bit. The urge to also set up sub-categories of "answered" versus "not answered" is strong—I want a way to separate out the pending from the solved cases, to know what work still needs to be done. And the idea of finding a way to sub-categorize by surname headings is also pushing me. If nothing else, I want a way to split everything into "maternal" versus "paternal" branch categories.
The possibilities keep mushrooming. What started out as a simple pursuit of grouping ancestors' descendants by similarity of genetic background is exploding into a complex project begging for management tools more akin to PERT diagrams or Gantt charts than email folders.
The worst of it is the sense that, if all systems are worked just right, I'll turn this DNA mountain of mystery matches into the mole hill it more rightly deserves to be. That sense may well be deceiving me. There may not be any magic solution to figure out how these thousands of people match me; no matter how well I organize my system, the only way to really know that may well be to do the hard work of building others' trees for them. I may have to find the path from my door to that of my match's most recent common ancestor, myself.
On the other hand, figuring out the connection with a DNA match can be deceptively easy. I write an introductory email to my match, my match actually answers it, we exchange links to our respective family trees, we find a mutual surname, and bingo! We find the answer. Whenever that happens, it always startles me, because the occurrence seems so relatively rare. I start thinking I must do penance to turn that situation around, when it's likely that is not what needs to be done, at all.
What does need to be done still eludes me, though more organization will certainly help keep track of progress. Or at least assuage my sense of needing to get something done. But how to measure progress, when the end lies beyond a murky shadow, is hard to determine.