My reason for writing this post is to help those who may get confused with all the internet language that we toss around so freely.
However, I am reading a lot of questions and comments where the use of the word website is being used in place of database and vice versa.
Why does this matter?
It matters because in order to properly understand what we are doing, as genealogists, we need to understand the different options available to us and how they work. If you use your computer to do any of your genealogy research, then you need to know some basic computer language. It will help you to better utilize your resources.
WHAT IS A WEBSITE?
I did a Google search for the word Website and found many links with definitions. They all basically say the same thing. Here are a couple of definitions:
From Merriam-Webster dictionary http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/database
”A collection of pieces of information that is organized and used on a computer.”
From Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/website
“A connected group of pages on the World Wide Web regarded as a single entity, usually maintained by one person or organization and devoted to a single topic or several closely related topics.”
EXAMPLES OF WEBSITES
When you place your family tree on Ancestry.com you are contributing to their website.
When you access newspapers on Genealogybank.com you are accessing the records that have been placed on the site.
There can be databases created within websites. Which is exactly what your ancestor tree is on these various websites. A database within the website.
How does that differ from a database?
WHAT IS A DATABASE?
I conducted another Google search for the definition of the word database. Again, most of the definitions were the same.
From Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/database
"A comprehensive collection of related data organized for convenient access, generally in a computer."
From Merriam-Webster.com http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/database
”Collection of data or information organized for rapid search and retrieval, especially by a computer. Databases are structured to facilitate storage, retrieval, modification, and deletion of data in conjunction with various data-processing operations. A database consists of a file or set of files that can be broken down into records, each of which consists of one or more fields. Fields are the basic units of data storage. Users retrieve database information primarily through queries. Using keywords and sorting commands, users can rapidly search, rearrange, group, and select the field in many records to retrieve or create reports on particular aggregates of data according to the rules of the database management system being used.”
Doesn’t that last definition sound exactly like our genealogy programs such as Legacy, RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, Reunion and others?
Yes, it does. Because those programs are databases. We add information to the database, we retrieve information from it, we create reports, we search in it for information that we have added.
But………wait! Aren’t our genealogy programs linked to the internet too? Does that mean they are websites? NO!
The genealogy programs we use are databases that have been programmed to link to websites on the internet.
With the click of a mouse from these programs we can access websites such as Ancestry or Family Search. One program, Family Tree Maker, even syncs your DATABASE to the Ancestry WEBSITE.
I hope this information was helpful. I often interact with genealogists who are not comfortable with computers. I try to help them by explaining things in a way that helps them understand and allows them to use their databases and the available websites to their full capacity.
OTHER POSTS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST
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LEGACY 8 - THE SEARCH FUNCTION - WHAT CAN YOU FIND?
Copyright © 2014 Diane Gould Hall
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Those websites all have powerful databases behind them that you are accessing. FamilySearch.org, for instance, is a website with many areas for information, some of which are databases where you can search the data and get records of information.ReplyDelete
For me that's the tricky part to understand and cite. Am I documenting the database or the website?