It is so interesting to see the many changes happening in genealogy. Over the past 10 years, things have changed dramatically. Really. In thinking back 10 years ago before Facebook, before smart devices, before wide DNA use, it really was a different era. While databases and websites were used, they did not allow for much of the sharing and discovery we now consider normal.
Surveys and trends in the past decade provide some short insight into how genealogists research and how they organize. So here are my humble predictions for what is in store for us in the future!
Genealogy will continue to become more community based
Think of all the collective think tanks that genealogy offers. Whether people belong to an online community, lineage organization, cruise group, haplogroup, or society, the act of gathering with like people for a shared interest creates the ties that bind. Really, many people want to be inclusive and not exclusive so such outlets provide ample opportunity for socializing, sharing stories, and learning. This is a time of transition for many of these groups as they try new approaches for members. When it comes down to it, all involved want to create knowledge from events and experiences and as such groups become more informal, more will join.
Flash mob anyone?
Genealogy will increase in mobility and sharing
Thank you smart devices! Wherever the genealogist goes texts, email, video, family trees, voice recorder, cloud storage, document retrieval, GPS will follow! With so many apps for personal organization and storage, genealogy is now mobile. A few years ago there were only a few apps genealogists could use, now there a hundred. With the ability to capture information in hand, genealogists will not only be able save what they find but share it instantly with other researchers and family. Digital captures also allow for genealogists to create digital libraries which are also shareable. Although not everyone knows it yet, we are all moving toward an always online and always plugged enivornment.
More people will discover genealogy through technology
As the internet changed access to information, databases changed how information is stored, and smart devices changed how we manage our daily life, technology has become a mainstay in our material culture. It is here to stay and yes it will change frequently. However, as youth grow up with technology it will become the go to source for information searching. Many may start with Google or with Ancestry or FamilySearch before attempting to use.......books? Those with old family photos may discover genealogy through preservation and photoshop. Others may use Google Earth to hunt down old addresses. Whatever the initial interest, technology will lend a large helping hand to spark that interest.
(Let me add here that I am not saying that the book should be replaced or the book is obsolete. Far from it, as there are so many wonderful book publications that offer unique and valuable information not available online. We will come to a mutual multimedia world of books, digital, and microfilm)
Genealogy will become multidisciplinary
History, social history, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, archealogy, genetics, all play such an important role in genealogy. Genealogy will no longer be a stand alone discipline as it is enhanced by the other subjects. More subjects may be added to the list as genealogists apply their different world view to their research. Such a multidiscplinary field will increase the need for standards; however, as genealogy communities and technology become more informal they will be less used.
All for genealogy and genealogy for all
Genealogy will be ageless. People will be interested in genealogy for all sorts of reasons and it will no longer be uncommon for younger generations to start asking about their ancestors and doing their own research. Families will discover their roots together with youth being a part of that process. We may also start seeing genealogy more common in the classroom.