One of the thoughts that strikes me from time to time is the future - and what will it be?. That's a really difficult thing for me to imagine - as we have all been at this for such a short time. Bennett Greenspan created the first practical usage of dna testing for Genealogy in 2000 - not even 9 years ago. At that time, his new company, FTDNA, offered the most markers for a yDNA test - 12! And, the price was higher than now - though I don't know the amount, as I wasn't an early customer. I found my way into using dna for genealogy in 2001, as co-administrator of the Barton DNA Project. We managed to get ourselves involved with Brigham Young University's research - and negotiated a discount rate. We were off and running - and one of the World's largest projects for several years. (probably 2nd - though no one was really keeping score yet)
Chuckle- as I remember that first year - it seems so long ago - and in GG time, it was. We were first told we would get 15 markers - then - we were told that it would be "more" - but no number was shared. It was nearly a year later when we finally got our results - in a batch - for our first 42 men. By that time, the count had risen - to 23 markers! This seemed like a huge number. Over time, the company were dealing with became Relative Genetics - and our first tests were completely rerun - rising to 26 markers - the most available at the time. I can remember thinking - with "100 members" - we can have all of the answers. Then, by 2004, we had our 100 members - but still many questions. And - were testing some of our men with FTDNA's new 37 marker test - giving us 42 markers in all - and then RG's upgrade to 43 markers came along and we crept up to 48 markers. Still, we had many questions - and I claimed - "When we get "100 markers and 200 men" - we'll get the answers. Well, we have over 200 men in the project, have tested a dozen of them to over 100 markers - and we still have questions!
Don't get me wrong - we have learned many things. We have identified 17 genetic families (and have another 40+ men with no match - who we really have identified at least 60 different genetic patterns that go with our Barton surname. We've confirmed a lot of theories - shot down a few theories, connected some unconnected paper trails, rewritten a few paper trails, built a stronger sponsoring organization, and made a lot of special friendships and research teams. And - I could talk all day in detail about those successes and share our stories - but I digress.
Looking into the future - where are we going?
Markers - we've gone from 6 to 9, to 10, to12, to 26, to 37, 42, 48, 67, 76, ... and I am personally tested at 116 (if I recall correctly.) Where will it end? All of them? How many is that? How long will it take? (I recall hearing that it is about 400 - but that some aren't very "useful") Will it take 2 years, 5 years? 10 years? Will we end up stopping the chase - as we found what we wanted to know?
Haplogroups - I've personally gone from R1b to R1b1, to R1b1c to almost half the alphabet - currently R1b1b2a1b7c (according to FTDNA) and something slightly different according to ISOGG) The short name now is R-L2, a few weeks ago, I was "only" R-U152. Confusing? Yes! Exciting? You bet! My hope now is that the deep subclades will eventually tell us which part of the diaspora we came from - in some detail. And - that we'll see the SNPs connect right into our Genetic Families (that I call Lineages) - so that the marker mutations and SNPs are providing confirming - and redundant - info. How long will that take? Will it actually ever occur? I don't know - but when I was an "R1b", I couldn't even imagine having useful Haplogroup definition - and now look!
Replacing lost Paper Trails - isn't this the real goal? Can we do it? How long will it take? Will it be markers, SNPs, or something else that I don't even know about? Today, in the most extremely positive situations, we can come close to replacing a short portion of a hole in a paper trail. In a few years? We can certainly hope!!!
Now imagine ... we are all long gone - everyone of us here today, seeking answers today - in 2009. Take the year 2100 - 100 years after Bennett started us on this quest. What will those folks say and think when they look back? chuckle. I'll bet they will laugh about how little we knew - and shake their heads at some of our far-fetched notions and hopes. And, I hope they say - while those folks didn't have nearly the info we did - they did a pretty good job with what they had. And - boy! Are we glad they did what they did! The records they compiled, the families they tested, the sharing and sorting out of the messes that they accomplished! Without all of that work, our wonderful scientific knowledge of 2100 wouldn't have nearly the impact.
So, next time you find yourself frustrated, imagine the future with me. And - who knows - one of these decades - your name may be spoken in reverence by the family researchers.
We are all accustomed to thinking of those who came before us - as we try to reconstruct and tell their story. But think also - of those who come after us. We are telling a story, too!