Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Family History and the Information Age
I believe that a society’s true motivations are revealed by how it utilizes the available technology. When you search Google for “genealogy OR family history” you instantly get 457,000,000 results (as of February 6th, 2008). Searching for “American Idol” only returns 31,200,000 results. Maybe it’s the search for identity, the desire to find familial connections, or the simple hope to know that we’re not alone, but something drives us to build and utilize tools for researching family history. Whatever the case, it feels good to know that genealogy is more important than American Idol.
Labels: ethics, family history, genealogy, society, technology
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Genealogy has been around on the Internet for about 3 or 4 times as long as American Idol, and is interesting to people on the other side of the world where American Idol might not be. A more revealing comparison is that in 1995 there were an estimated 113 million people in the United States interested in doing genealogy, and 19 million actively involved in genealogy research. This number has most certainly increased in the last 13 years. American Idol's 4th season debuted with 33.6 million viewers. I think it would be safe to say that they are about equal in popularity when measured in population of participants. What is amazing though is that genealogy, a task that requires significant work and time investment, can be as popular as American Idol, something that requires vegging out on your couch.
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