What the future of genealogy holds?
Kory Meyerink, host of the show, talked with Paul and asked him various questions about the value WorldVitalRecords.com’s data brings to genealogists and family historians, the purpose of FamilyLink.com, and what the future of genealogy holds.
Here are some of Paul’s responses:
What is the added value that WorldVitalRecords.com offers to us?
WorldVitalRecords.com is acquiring hundreds of millions of records…. Our team has been scouring the world for unique data. We are going to announce a few pretty big datasets at the NGS Conference. I am traveling all over the world working with as many content providers as possible to provide exclusive data to WorldVitalRecords.com subscribers.
The value that we add, even on the public records is geocoding. We are very big into the future of Intent mapping with Google Maps, Google Earth, and Virtual Earth. We have the geo coding process in place, and we are geocoding hundreds of millions of records. As we get new databases from around the world, we try to geo code every record.
Geocoding is useful so you can visualize locations on a Web site. It is also potentially enabling us to get into mobile phone applications. For example, you, as a genealogist might be traveling through Pennsylvania, and we might have your family tree on your cell phone. It might actually direct you to locations where your ancestors lived, or cemeteries or tombstones, or archives that might have data about your ancestors. All of this becomes possible in the future with mobile applications, as long as we are doing the geocoding up front.
What is FamilyLink.com?
We started working on it a few months ago. It is a social network for family historians. It’s similar to other social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn. These social networks get millions of users who are able to connect with each other, and share information.
FamilyLink is our social network for family history. Right now it is in beta. We have several thousand users already. We have users from 34 countries. Hundreds of people are visiting the site, and about half of the people who go to the site sign up. We are very optimistic that FamilyLink will have hundreds of thousands of people who can communicate with each other, and ask questions of each other from all over the world.
We are not too far away from enabling a member to upload their family tree. A person can say, “Here are my ancestors from Connecticut.” Then this person can make contact with a genealogist who lives there, who has also said he is willing to do a local record lookup. The person can then walk a few minutes away from his home to the right repository and come back with the information that the other person needs. So that kind of free record lookup will be very easy for family historians now. You will now see the people behind genealogy research, rather than just all the data that is online.
Kory then related how he had a cousin from across the world who was able to get a birth certificate for him when he needed to go to Germany in 1974.
Paul then said, imagine having a cousin like that in 150,000 cities around the world. They are not really your cousins, but they are into family history. With one click, you can connect with them and explain what the need is.
I have never met kinder people in my life than the people in family history. There is so much willingness. This is a hobby and a passion that engages people for people who really want to do good in the world. They want to preserve their heritage. They want to connect with their families. They are so willing. There really are thousands of people who are doing this. We are organizing it so that it is easy for anyone to use. They are just one click away from help from someone and one click away to offer help to someone.
What’s Coming in Genealogy?
The Internet is really changing so many industries. I think we are already seeing the impact with the availability of records. What I see coming in the next couple of years is a huge onslaught of content–an avalanche of content coming from a lot of different sources. There are many companies that are scanning millions of books around the world. I think what we are going to end up seeing is so many billions of records that it is going to be overwhelming, and I think much of it will be free. There is a real need to create powerful advanced search tools that will make it easier and easier to navigate through this huge number of records.