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The Ancestry widget should be more sensitive to deaths

Today’s the day my mom died. The Ancestry.com widget, of which I may be the only person the planet to use, so helpfully reminded me of this.

The Ancestry widget should be more sensitive to deaths 1

Thing is, I have the widget on my “Weekend” Home Screen and a side screen through the week as a reminder to think about my family tree, work on my genealogy research, and just generally keep me in-touch with my ancestors. All the things I’m sure the team behind the widget intended.

But like photo memories where algorithms surface random photos of dead pets, people, and lost friends and lovers, this Ancestry widget feels like it needs a little more smarts.

And unlike the photo widget, which has the intractable problem of not knowing precisely who or what is in a photo, just that it’s composed well and seemingly ticks the boxes for a few other key indicators, the Ancestry widget has all of the information.

  • It knows she is my mother.
  • It knows when she died.
  • It knows what today is.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that maybe, just maybe, a person might want to toggle that off so they don’t see this all week long. Or that anyone’s death or a deceased person’s birthday connected within one or two generations is not “happy”.

Others might appreciate having that on their Home Screen. I do not. And I imagine anyone who has only recently lost a loved one in the last few years would feel differently still. There should be a toggle to say, “Only show key dates and people from at least one or two generations ago.” Or, set a time threshold, like, “Don’t show me key dates and people for things that happened in the last 25, 50, or 75 years.”


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About JUSTIN HARTER

Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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