Interview with Erica Howton

Posted February 2, 2011 by Geni | 2 Comments

We love to interview members of our community. I was lucky enough to have a virtual sit-down with Erica Howton — a curator who is extremely active.

How has being a curator changed the way that you use Geni? Is it a substantial change in more ways than one? Any specific situation that being a curator changed?

In a word: connectivity. I started out my tree in total isolation (a private, horizontal tree) and had great fun with it. Then I tip toed into the big tree. I connected to the rest of America. I tip toed a little more with “the collaboration pool.” Suddenly it’s “world history.” I joined the curatorial team, and it’s “current world” — not just its history.

What is your pre-Geni background with genealogy? What, exactly, has changed since you’ve become an active Geni member?

Are we including my father’s bed time stories about probable ancestors like John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster? He currently shows as my 18th great grandfather in Geni. What exactly has changed is that we now have links – some of better quality than others, of course – to “somewhat prove” what we’ve always “known,” which are two very different issues.

At another time in my life, I would go here on my lunch hour, and just read this. Now, I am actively engaged in learning and building with a current focus on Colonial America.

Do you have any specific profiles or project that are near and dear to your heart? Why are they so special to you?

Part of the fun of Geni is that you can go “visit” profiles and see how they’re progressing. This is one of the first ones that took my breath away as to the possibilities in Geni.

As to Projects — I’ve been working, off and on, with a colleague curator, on an “Oldest Homes in ….” series, based on Wikipedia lists. The other day one of our collaborators asked, what about “Oldest Homes in New Hampshire? I have some great links …” So we said, “OK, let’s take a risk, and start our own list.

If you could change one thing about Geni, what would it be? Why do you feel that way?

One thing about the application? The other day it must have been hit with a lot of network traffic and timed out, and that was annoying. So that would be the one thing I would change: always available.

What is your favorite part of Geni as a genealogy tool? What does it offer to you that nothing else does?

I think I already said it! Connectivity. That is unique, and a great, great pleasure.

If you’d like to see more community interviews, take a look at our Featured Guest section.