Unfolding the future of online family history research

Regarding FamilySearch, "something big is coming soon," proclaimed Daniel C. Lawyer on July 29, the third day of the Conference on Family History and Genealogy at BYU. In fact, that declaration was the parenthetical subtitle of his plenary session address, "The Future of FamilySearch."

Brother Lawyer is a senior product manager for FamilySearch, the Church's family history website and its associated online genealogy services. But his self-applied title is "uber-techno-genealogist-ologist" (UTGO) which he facetiously defined as "a technologist specializing in the study of genealogists."

He and other "UTGOs," colleagues from the FamilySearch staff, were sent around the world to observe people's behavior regarding family history. They talked with experts, novices, non-participants and even people who are "anti-genealogy," he said. What they found was that doing genealogy is difficult because people encounter obstacles in access to records, various tools, technology and life circumstances. They also found that genealogy, in the way it is often presented, is not engaging to people new to the pursuit.

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