For many genealogy researchers. there is not much wrong with the genealogy world today. The average Jane Researcher spends a lot of time online and the amount of databases and records and newspapers available online is growing at a brisk pace. Not everything is online of course, but the growing number of records is very helpful. So that is GOOD.
The problem with genealogy today in my view is the abundance of companies (and growing), each with their own user-controlled family trees and increasingly, story and photo databases. And few of them talk to one another and one must keep and update their own data in each of these online trees if one wants to expose their research to as many potential cousins as possible. And we know that there is a bunch of garbage trees and most likely there will be garbage stories and garbage photos as time goes on. My guess, however is that the quality of the data that users upload is not of much interest to the subscription-based companies, as long as they can obtain new customers and retain the old ones through renewals.
Does this mean that there will be larger and larger One World Trees for each vendor? And if you add photos and stories to the mix, will we have multiple "Geneapedias" of dead people with tons of low quality entries and errors? If so, that is NOT GOOD. I see this becoming a MASSIVE problem in the coming years. Inexperienced researchers will only compound the problem - again NOT GOOD.
What about the corollary question - What's Wrong with Genealogists Today?
For the advanced and very experienced, nothing is wrong. They know what they are doing and they know how to research and what to do with that research. And they know that learning is part of the equation. This is GOOD.
The challenge is for the inexperienced, hobbyists, and newbies. With the culture today pretty much focusing on instant gratification, this flies in the face of prolonged, detailed research. Even the advertisements focus on "how easy it is" to build a family tree of names. Anyone who has done this for awhile knows that it is not easy. And that conflict between instant gratification and the need for detailed research is NOT GOOD.
Asking others for help is generally a good thing, but my experience with social media and the ease of asking basic questions is generally an easy way out of finding things on one's own.
Are people just lazy, misinformed, undereducated or lazy? Yes I said that twice.
The answer is learning and education. Folks need to learn from others, not have others do their research for them. There is an abundance of books, conferences, and webinars both live and recorded. There are tons of genealogy blogs, where authors share what they have learned, as well as research tips. Genealogy societies have guest lectures and newsletters.
The fact is that there are lots of resources where one can learn to research and become more independent. But the abundance of family history enthusiasts do not take advantage of those resources. This is NOT GOOD.
What is the answer? Simply put:
- Invest your time and money in educating yourself. You can learn a lot with just a little money.
- Be very wary of data, stories and photos in online tree databases - use this information as a clue ONLY.
What do you think?