Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Genealogy Generation Gap.

Have you noticed something odd at genealogical conferences, Family History Centers, and genealogy societies?  How can I say this...we're all Old!  Some older than others, some younger...but if there is anyone there in their 40's, they stand out.  Generally, if a person is going to become interested in genealogy, they happen to do so later in life.  And if you have spent any amount of time in the aforementioned venues, you have noticed something else...a lot of these family historians are lacking basic computer skills.

Now there are a few, very few, genealogists out there who are not using a computers.  Frankly, I would argue that in today's world, real solid genealogy research is not possible without a computer - more about this below.  While there are a few hold-outs with pencil and family group sheets, the lion's share of us use a computer to make our research possible.  While most all of us use a computer to some degree, it has been my first hand experience that many researchers lack even the basic computer skills to make things really happen.  You might get by, but you may be wasting a lot of time overcoming computer issues, and/or never truly realizing maximum efficiency.

So for most persons who are genuinely interested in family history research, a gap exists - the Genealogy Generation Gap.  Whereas, a majority of people activity involved in family history work are from the older set, they generally lack a requisite computer skills necessary to do anymore than basic data entry.  Their hearts are in the right place, and they might even have years of experience, but are missing the boat at the keyboard.

On the other side of the Genealogy Generation Gap are younger people, who have the skill sets with bits and bytes, but little or no interest in their family history.

But there is good news...on two fronts.  First, the older researchers can, and have learned a great deal in 'computerdoom'.  More is needed to be sure, but they are working with the new and ever changing paradigm.  On the other side of the gap, young people are getting older - daily.  Someday, they too will become interested in their own history.  When they do, they show up with the needed skill sets.

And why can't we get away without a computer?  Have you been in any of the larger Family History Center's lately?  No books!  Well, darn few.  Everything has gone digital.  Good, or bad...lets say, Good and Bad...we simply do not have the access we once had in the non-digital world.  I want to use the term "force multiplier" here.  Our digital world is absolutely a "force multiplier" - we only dreamt about this 10 short years ago.  But today it is the only avenue open to us.  To truly perform effective, and efficient research we each require at least intermediate computer and online skills.  Moreover, our genealogical research demands a "reasonably exhaustive" search per the Genealogical Proof Standard.  With so much of the information we seek only available through the use of a keyboard and mouse, anyone truly interested in solid research has to bridge this Gap.  

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