Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy

21/10/2010

The National Archives

Dear John,

I’d like to apologise for any issues you may have experienced when visiting our Labs site, as featured in the enewsletter we sent you yesterday. The level of interest on this occasion has been far greater than on previous occasions, and our Labs site couldn’t quite meet the demand.

All the prototypes on the Labs site (including the Domesday tool) are trials, which have been produced at very low cost using new technology, new ideas and new ways of processing data. They are not perfect and need to be built on. Before we invest, we want to know what you think about them and whether you would find them useful. This will help us focus our limited funding and resources in a way that supports you, our customers, best.

So far this has been a success and given us a strong steer on what works, what doesn’t and what you would like to see. It is great to see so much interest and shows we are going down the right path in our developments. The level of interest in the site yesterday (particularly the Domesday tool) caused a number of technical issues, which we are now working to resolve. We will use the lessons learnt this week to improve both the robustness of the Labs site itself and how we tell our customers about it.

In spite of these teething problems, we have been able to get very useful feedback on the automatic geographic referencing we trialled with the Domesday tool. We used automated software, rather than a manual process, to geo-reference this data. We’ve now learnt that this works on the whole but that there are a few specific issues. We are now comparing the computer-generated data with the most up-to-date scholarly lists of Domesday names to help resolve any issues.

I hope that you will continue to take an interest in our online developments and tell us what you think of them. We are very excited at being able to open up our collection in new and innovative ways, and we very much value your support in doing so.

Best wishes,

David Thomas
Director of Technology

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