Monday, March 31, 2008

Which generation are we shooting for?

There has been an idea simmering in the back of my mind since the BYU Affiliates conference a couple of weeks ago that is percolating stronger and stronger as I review the blogs I've been watching this last week. Here it is, not at full boil, but perhaps it will come to a boil as I start to work it through in my blog.

The people who are writing the new family history sites, and managing the old ones, are swimming in a sea of *!*!cutting edge internet technology!*!* Wikis--where anyone is invited to collaborate on writing together, Social Networking--sites like and MySpace where people talk to each other, blogs of course, and etc.

This is great for the 20 something crowd, our college students that can text faster than they can talk and do nothing that isn't attached to the internet. But is that crowd doing genealogy? Rather than building genealogy tools to appeal to the 20 somethings, maybe we should be working on attracting the younger generation to the topic of Family History at all. I don't know that the interest is there no matter what the computer system looks like. It seems that the people I know in that age group are conditioned to a much bigger entertainment factor. And I wonder if they are going to be interested in it as they get older.

All of these new and exciting social networking genealogy sites are great for the 20 somethings that don't care. And overwhelming to the older generation that does care. One lady at the South Davis conference a couple of weeks ago told me that her 70ish (?) mother left the New FamilySearch lecture in tears. Hmmm. Are we missing the boat?

Allen, Paul, “In San Francisco for SnapSummit 2.0”, Paul Allen: Internet Entrepreneur, 25 March 2008, ( accessed 31 March 2008.

Grace, “RIP Phone Book, 1878-20??”, Genealogy Insider, 26March 2008, (,guid,7b6d0e4c-6577-4d6d-b9cd-1e50d188b679.aspx): accessed 31 March 2008.

Seaver, Randy, "Genealogy Social Networking Sites", Genea-Musings, 27 March 2008, ( accessed 31 March 2008.

More at and


Anonymous said...

True! I admit, I'm not doing geneology, but I'm impressed by all the new stuff they have to help!
However, my 81-year-old grandmother, who has been researching geneology for years, is still using PAF 3 and has no plans to change over. I don't know the solution, but generation gap is definitely an issue.

Anonymous said...

To the over 40 population who are generally the ones doing family history, Facebook, mySpace, bolgging, Wiki, are very foreign terms. I consider my-self fairly knowledgeable with computers,(not a novice) and these terms are just now beginning to make sense. (This is my first attempt at commenting on a blog and it took me an hour and an phone call to finally get the screen in order to type)

Most of the avid geanlogists, are very busy with research and documenting sources. Who has time to learn high-tech computer stuff.

Most older adults see their teenagers spend hours upon hours on the computer for entertainment. Entertainment, social networks, blogs, texting, seem to be taking away time for research not adding to it. I want to spend as little time on the computer as possible.

Don and Pat said...

You've definitely given me a lot to think about. As a 60-year-old off-again on-again genealogist (OK, family historian), I started researching my pedigree and collecting family biographies and photos over 40 years ago. I learned to write it all out by hand (couldn't afford a typewriter and copy machines hadn't been invented yet). We've come a long way. Luckily, I know my way around a computer and the Internet, but it seems that every time I get back into this hobby things have changed so much that I have to start all over again. I can see how people my age who aren't technologically savvy would just throw up their hands and walk away. For those who have to learn their way around a computer and the Internet before they can do any research, why begin? It's easier to leave this project for the "younger generation" who already know how to navigate. Trouble is, the younger generation has so many places to put their time and attention that family history usually isn't a priority.

What's the answer?? Wouldn't it be great if a grandma/grandpa and a grandchild would make some time to work together? Not only would it bring the strengths of both together to accomplish more, it would be a great bonding experience for both generations. How to start? Share family stories with your kids and grandkids. That's what got me interested when I was young. The people whose names I saw on the pedigree chart became real to me and I wanted to learn more.

Anonymous said...

Tamura Jones has a comprehensive list of social genealogy sites: