05 April 2017

Jamboree 2017 Thursday Workshop: Solving Ethical Dilemmas Faced by 21st Century Genealogists

“Solving Ethical Dilemmas Faced by 21st Century Genealogists”

Guest post by Jean Wilcox Hibben; PhD, MA

Right and wrong were so simple when we were children: taking something that wasn’t yours (e.g., a candy bar from the corner store, your friend’s toy, money from Mommy’s purse, etc.) was wrong. Sometimes we were tempted and sometimes some of us gave in to temptation, but we still knew we were doing wrong. When did it get so difficult to assess the rightness or wrongness of an action?

I once asked a class of college students when it was OK to cheat on a test or assignment. A lot of people answered “never.” Some said, “when I didn’t get a chance to study.” Others said, “when I know everyone else is doing it.” But one person gave me the most interesting answer of all: “Whenever I can get away with it.” Somewhere between taking the candy bar from the store and writing a college (or high school, or even elementary school) assignment, the line blurred. Not for everyone, but for enough people who research family history that a workshop – a discussion session, really – on the topic is now a NECESSITY. And anyone who has shared family tree information with a relative, only to find that person reproducing the data without giving the researcher, let alone the original sources, credit, is fully aware of that. 

Sometimes we do the wrong thing without even realizing it. Some folks innocently do not understand that materials produced by genealogists and presented at seminars and in society meetings are the intellectual property of the producer. The idea that taking photographs of slides the presenter is showing might be a violation of copyright does not occur to a person, especially when the goal is for the conference attendee to use the information solely as a personal reminder, not to share or publish. Yet, at the same time, the person taking that photo would tell you that going into a theater to see a first-run of a movie and video recording the entire program is a blatant violation of the rules. Where is the line? 

So here is an opportunity for 40 registrants to join together, talk about the issues, discuss when exceptions might be in order, and come up with some alternatives so that none of those in this select group will be called out for plagiarizing or illegally reproducing another’s materials. Oh, and, as long as SCGS is OK with it, feel free to copy this blog post and tell your friends about this unique workshop on Thursday afternoon, 2:15-4:15, June 8. Bring your questions and concerns, but not your video or audio recorders!

Thursday, June 8, 2017, 2:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.   
TH-E Solving Ethical Dilemmas Faced by 21st Century Genealogists 
presented by Jean Wilcox Hibben; PhD, MA

This special workshop is part of a series of workshops that are open to registered attendees of the Genetic Genealogy Conference or at least one day at Jamboree 2017. Additional registration is required.

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