Thursday, April 2, 2020

One Bright Spot in a Dull Month

If there was anything of interest to come out of the dreary month that March had become, it was the just-in-time announcement of the newly updated Shared cM Project. That useful genetic genealogy tool, a crowdsourced project spearheaded by Blaine Bettinger with usefulness further enhanced by Jonny Perl of DNA Painter, has now been revised, thanks to the input of data from more than sixty thousand avocational genetic genealogists.

The announcement came out in a blog post at DNA Painter on March 27, concurrent with the word about the new version 4.0 at Blaine's own blog, The Genetic Genealogist. For the nerdiest among us, Blaine also provided a fifty-six page .pdf explanation of what exactly is new and updated, the method used to cull the data, and explanation of analysis of the data.

Of course, the update married to the DNA Painter site means new toys to play with, for those of us addicted to color coding our DNA matches. For the curious, you can take the new clickable chart out for a test drive here, but hopefully, you will be more than just a lookie-loo.

Since one side effect of the current quarantine situation, at least for me, is that I find it hard to settle down to tackle a long slog of a research project, I've discovered untangling and reconnecting DNA matches combines just the right amount of reserve mental energy with the need to "get something done." With just enough energy to grab a moment here or there to research, I've managed to tie up quite a few loose ends in the past month on those frustratingly anonymous DNA matches.

Furthermore, connecting the dots between the kits I administer and the DNA matches that had kept me puzzled has led to another serendipitous opportunity: starved for human interaction, I've resorted to actually reaching out to my DNA matches, even if I already know their connection, just to chat about our mutual lines of research. Just the other day, one of my matches—and in that pesky paternal line of my name-changing grandfather—happened to mention one family "secret" she had heard from her own branch of the family. Imagine this: it involved another relative on that paternal side who also thought it would be a great idea to change that Polish-sounding surname during a World War.

I begin to sense a pattern here....

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