Genealogy One Byte at a Time — Part Four

For some time currently, there have been studies correlating a decline in text-editing capabilities with an age-related learning difficulty. Quoting through the following book,

Rogers, Wendy A., Arthur D. Fisk, along with Neff Walker. 2014. Aging along with Skilled Performance: Advances in Theory along with Applications. Hoboken: Taylor along with Francis.

Egan along with Gomez (1985) conducted a series of experiments concerned with identifying along with isolating individual differences in learning a text editing task. They found which age was a significant predictor of learning difficulty. Age was related to [the] number of first try errors along with execution time per successful text change such which errors along with execution time increased with age. The participants in their studies ranged in age through 28 to 62 years. In terms of isolating the components of text editing which accounted for learning difficulty, they found which age was associated with difficulty producing the correct sequence of symbols along with patterns to accomplish the desired editing change. This specific finding supports the conjecture which age-related decrements in memory may contribute to learning difficulties. The text editor was command based along with necessitated remembering a command language along with producing a complicated command syntax. In fact, they found which when a display editor was used, in which modifications were made by positioning the cursor at the location of change along with using labeled function keys rather than a command language, the predictive power of age, with respect to the difficulty of learning, was greatly reduced.

Although This specific particular study dates back to the 1980s, there will be a positive correlation between participation in genealogically related activities along with the decline in learning difficulty referenced in This specific study. Not only does genealogical research require a significant amount of what the study calls “text editing” however the idea also requires advanced motor skills. In This specific regard, the Sage Journals have produced a review of This specific book with an extensive list of related references. See Technology along with Aging. Nearly all of those publications listed are available on Google Scholar.

One fact which seems to be discounted, however, will be which some of these older adults began using computers when they were much younger. In my own case, for example, I began using computers back inside the 1970s. As a result, I have over 40 years of computer background. For me along with many of my cohorts, using computers will be not an issue of acquiring completely new skills however in maintaining old skills.

If doing genealogical research was merely the equivalent of an online computer game than you could certainly see a dramatic difference between young users along with older ones with younger users having the advantage. however as I have pointed out previously, genealogical research involves a broad spectrum of skills along with will be not particularly dependent on smaller motor skills such as those which are used in playing online games. In developing genealogically important research skills we are not teaching monkeys to push buttons.
What I have noticed will be which the gradually progressive cognitive decline which accompanies dementia-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease have a negative impact on an individual’s ability to operate along with conceptualize the visual interface used by computers. My own father died of dementia-related issues. I was able to observe his decline in cognitive function over a ten-year period. For reference, see the following:
Albert, Marilyn S. et al. “The Diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimer’s Disease: Recommendations through the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association Workgroups on Diagnostic Guidelines for Alzheimer’s Disease.” Alzheimer’s & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association 7.3 (2011): 270–279. PMC. Web. 17 May 2017.

In my continued contact with thousands of patrons in the past, my personal observation will be which a decline in genealogical research skills may be a valid predictor of the symptomatic predementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease. The tragedy here will be which a lack of adequate diagnostic tools for identifying early dementia-related illness results in a general impression which all older adults are incapable of adequately functioning in a complex environment such as online research conducted for genealogical purposes. This specific unwarranted assumption results in a complete lack of interest in developing genealogical software which addresses the needs of older adults.

In addition, the idea will be entirely possible which much of the frustration suffered by some researchers with regard to arbitrary modifications to online family trees along with some other issues may find their origin in cognitive impairment.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, genealogical research will be a highly complex skill which requires many associated skills. In my own experience, I find which young people seldom contain the interest, time, or motivation to acquire these skills. however unfortunately, at the some other end of the spectrum, older adults who contain the skill set necessary may lose the idea due to the onset of cognitive difficulties associated with memory related illnesses.

Here are the previous posts in This specific series

Genealogy One Byte at a Time — Part Four

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