Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Facebook Knows My Family Tree

Genealogical research is not about generating new information; it is about trying to find information that already exists somewhere, in some inconvenient format, and re-entering it. It is using human brains to look for pointers in written records and joining those records by hand. As more and more records are digitized, or collected originally in digital form, it is utterly insane that human researchers should still be required to engage in this menial work. No one should have to slave away manually searching through old records looking for the pointers that connect one human to another in the family graph. The greatest potential revolution in genealogy lies not in new software to streamline the process of doing research, but in software that eliminates the human bottleneck entirely. The pinnacle of genealogical technology will have arrived when family trees assemble themselves, requiring only that someone ask.