Freaky Friday: Random Research Reports

Today was a freaky day.  Early in the week, it appeared I would be mostly free today. Then I wasn’t. Then I was. Then I wasn’t. Then Saturday fell through and Tuesday freed up. Everything I planned seemed doomed to reschedules and cancellations.

So I decided to play around on facebook so at least if I was canceled, I wouldn’t be doing anything important.  A friend posted something  that was going around facebook, whereby you create a random band name, album name, and cover. Basically, the instructions send you to a random page on wikipedia, and that’s your band name. Another random page of quotations gives you your album title, and your album cover comes from  a random page on Flikr. After gathering all that, you put it together in Photoshop to create your album. It was kind of fun and it killed an otherwise wasted hour.

But then I thought, “What if we put all this randomness to some good?” And then it hit me (I often get hit with things – that’s what I get for not paying attention):

Why not define and create a completely random research report?

So here’s the idea, and I hope some of you will play along. Even if you can’t, pass it on and let’s see how many people actually do this:

1. Go to The Random Name Generator and click the red “Generate Name” button at the top of the screen

2. Go to Ancestry.com and enter your generated name in the search box on the main search page.

3. From the results, your research target will be the first census result for your generated name.

4. Using whatever online resources are at your disposal, see what else you can discover about your random person and write about it. It can be a formal report complete with footnotes, or just a “research story” about what you tried, problems you overcame, or success you had. Maybe you want to create a research plan for practice?

5. Post about it on your blog or wherever you wish, and link here to tell me about it.

I think it will be great fun to read what experiences people have with this! For those that are considering client work, this is actually a fairly practical exercise to see what you can uncover.

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6 Responses to Freaky Friday: Random Research Reports

  1. avatar Randy Seaver says:

    Hi Chris,

    I loved this idea – can I use it for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun? I will link to your post and use your directions. Please email me at rjseaver@cox.net.

    Cheers — Randy

  2. avatar Terri Fassnacht says:

    Okay, this was fun and creepy! My name was Autumn Dillard. From Ancestry, I chose Autumn Dillard, born January 16, 1980, in Florida. By using Google, found the following: That she is married to Thomas P. Thomes and is a wedding photographer and has one daughter!

    used http://www.whoulookingfor.com – found alias Autumn M. Thomes w/relatives Megan Karpan, Thomas P. Thomes, Suzanne B. Thomes, Richard W. Dillard, Melissa Thomes, Rose Dillard and Sean P. Thomes. (I didn’t check, but ASSUME that Richard and Rose Dillard are her parents, Thomas is her husband, Suzanne is her daughter, and Megan Karpan is a sister.)

    from http://www.autumn-photography.com/blog/
    Camera in hand since age six, I have always had a passion for photography! I am a wedding and portrait photographer based out of New Windsor, NY (in the Hudson Valley).
    Yes, my name really is Autumn and I’m a January baby who was born and raised in Florida no less! I am married to a wonderful, supportive man and we have the most awesome daughter in the world (no, really)! I’m silly, I love to laugh, I love to explore and make new friends. I drink way, WAY, WAAAYYY too much Coke and I have a major weakness for chocolate chip cookies. I’m outgoing but can also be very reserved depending on my mood. I am very expressive and talkative. I absolutely love music but don’t really listen to the radio so don’t ask me if I like a song that came out this month! My iPod is one of my best friends. Thankfully, my three bestest (Ya like that? Yeah, I know it’s not a word… but it’s my word) friends also live in my house – my husband, my daughter and my Dad. They are each amazing and the most important part of my life.
    While wedding and engagement photography has been my primary focus in recent years, I also absolutely love maternity, newborn, child, family, high school senior and headshot photography. I love capturing relationships and emotions in my photos and creating new friendships as well! You can learn more about me, my style and check out my work at http://www.autumn-photography.com! Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Thanks for this great idea, Chris. I followed your instructions and you can see the result at: http://goo.gl/dpHO6.

  5. avatar JenS says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for this – it was interesting to see how much I could uncover on ‘just anyone’. Of course, now I’m very curious about my random person! My post is here: http://bit.ly/i7PKsa

  6. avatar Chris Staats says:

    In case you don’t see it on the main page, my own research guy is here: http://www.staatsofohio.com/?p=1171

    I’m glad a few of you were able to play along. It’s fun reading everyone’s expereince with this!