The internet has brought us many benefits genealogy-wise. I have been researching for more than 30 years and I remember well having to scroll through screen after screen of microfilmed records looking for that ancestor on a census or in a church register.
Now we're lucky. Data is indexed and brought online at an amazing speed! How wonderful to be able to plug in an ancestor's name and get dozens of "hits". You can find actual records or connect with another descendant.
I can make contact with a "cousin" in another part of the world. Perhaps they put a family tree on a website and I find it and realize we share a common ancestor. How easy to make contact and share data and photographs.
The internet has made the world smaller and easily accessible. And this is good for genealogists.
The internet also levels the playing field. Anyone can participate in genealogy research - those who have strict budgets and might find it too expensive to go out to an archive or library to research can do it for the cost of an internet connection. A bit more money in the budget allows subscriptions to sites with newspapers, census, and other invaluable records. Anyone with physical challenges can much more easily obtain genealogy records with the internet.
Internet genealogy allows a newcomer to easily develop their family tree and this almost instant gratification can lead to the development of a passion for genealogy - always a good thing in my book!
We can use Google Street view to see where an ancestor lived, or visit a far-off archive to read about the history of a country an ancestor lived in.
We can consult online books at Guttenberg or Google Books or Internet Archives. We can attend online classes and conferences with instant streaming and webinars and podcasts.
There are many many good positive outcomes of Internet genealogy.
But the speed and ease of the internet has brought us some negative outcomes too. Bad genealogy and mediocre unsourced research is easily obtained and passed on via the internet.
Myths and incorrect genealogies are perpetuated rapidly and are easily spread through the genealogical community by social media and online forums.
Something I call surface or superficial genealogy seems to be a by-product of the internet. What I mean by this is that people can rather quickly grab names and dates and plug them into their tree without analyzing what they've found. They can gloss over what they are finding without doing an in-depth study to make sure they have the right facts and the correct ancestor!
Another negative outcome of the ease of internet genealogy is that many researchers don't seem to realize that not everything is online. Yes new databases are coming online at an amazing pace, both free and fee-based, but there are many obscure records hidden in dusty basements, archives, museums, libraries, land record offices and churches. These records may never come online! I sense that some newer genealogists haven't realized that there is an other world of offline research that needs to be tackled too.
Don't get me wrong. I love having the internet and sitting in my comfy chair with millions of facts at my fingertips. But I perceive some negative aspects of internet genealogy and they worry me.
What are your thoughts on this?