Genealogy Industry Predictions for 2011

crystal ball

Every new year, each industry seems to have a handful of folks who make “predictions” for the coming year. Our very own Genea Dixon here at GeneaBloggers has provided us with the following predictions. We’re not sure that any of these will come true or even close by the end of 2011. And remember, no wagering please!

Ancestry.com

  • Ancestry.com stock (ACOM) will close at $53.50 a share by year’s end – not quite the explosive growth of 2010 but a good showing never-the-less. There will be no buyout threats from another company except for the usual Google rumors.
  • Look for continued growth at Ancestry, but it will focus more on content and acquiring data rather than expanding products and focusing on the genealogy experience. Competitors will seize this opportunity and we’ll see some of these products outsell Ancestry.com products or at least gain a large market share.

Magazines

  • At least one major US genealogy and family history focused magazine will shut down.
  • There will be several startup-magazines in the genealogy field but they will be digital-only or print-on-demand and fail to capture the entire genealogy demographic.

Genealogical Societies

  • A sizable and long-running genealogical society will fold along with several small societies.  One society will suffer a leadership scandal involving finances.
  • Look for several genealogical societies to merge or at least take on resource-sharing.
  • Many genealogical quarterlies and publications will move to digital-only.
  • New genealogical societies will be started to serve a younger, more tech-oriented demographic due to the frustrations of working with “the establishment” of existing societies.

FamilySearch

  • FamilySearch will continue its indexing efforts and work to make more and more offerings available to researchers. The amount of data available online will be amazing.
  • A surprise collaboration by FamilySearch with a non-genealogy company gets the attention of Wall Street.
  • New products working with Family Search data and its API will appear on the market.

Demographics

  • As the economy improves in the US, we’ll see an increased birth rate and with that, an increase in first-time mothers and young families pursuing family history.
  • As more Baby Boomers retire (willingly and unwillingly), look for more online genealogy activity as these folks bring their Internet skills as “silver surfers” into the industry.

Conferences

  • Look for the “Ancestry Day” concept to expand to other vendors, other providers and other cities. A one day “event” with an exhibit hall, free or low cost admission but no lectures will take place and be a hit.
  • More for-profit genealogy conference and event vendors will come on the scene with varied success. Conferences by non-profit organizations will see greatly increased attendance numbers, as much as a 30% increase.
  • Two words: online conference. Look for the first day-long online conference complete with vendor exhibit hall, networking opportunities and lectures to appear by Fall 2011.
  • One seasoned genealogy lecturer will abandon the over-head projector and make the transition to PowerPoint.

Vendors and Providers

  • One large genealogy vendor will shut down – no explanation, no acquisition of data or assets. Heads will be scratched.
  • One or more legacy websites acquired by Ancestry.com years ago will be shut down and the data will be brought over to Ancestry’s main site. There will be much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth over this move.
  • A novel product concept will at first be mocked by much of the genealogy community, yet by year’s end, many will jump on the bandwagon and there will be product knock-offs.
  • A scramble by many new vendors to get in on the genealogy market with some dubious products and services. It will definitely be a “buyer beware” environment as amateurs and newbies are easily duped.

Publishing

  • Look for an increase in self-published books and magazines in both print and electronic form by various genealogy lecturers and speakers as well as current authors. As the self-publishing platforms become streamlined and easier to use, many more titles will be available covering all aspects of genealogy.

Media

  • More news and talk shows will carry genealogy and family history segments – not just the “how to” but also amazing stories of lost relatives, reunited families and mysteries solved via DNA.
  • A focus on the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in the US by the media will result in a greater focus on genealogy and family history.  More vendors and sites will key in on the Civil War aspect of genealogy.
  • The US version of Who Do You Think You Are? will suffer a ratings fall compared to its first season (due to the lack of advertising opportunities offered by last year’s Winter Olympics). A third season will be in doubt but an overall increase in media exposure to genealogy and family history will help bring WDYTYA back for 2012.

Education

  • A major university will add a genealogy program in an online setting by the end of 2011. More community colleges will be offering family history and genealogy courses as a form of adult education.
  • In addition, more genealogy software and product vendors will be using webinars and online education as a lure to products and services. Look for day-long online workshops as a possible offering.
  • A long and loud debate will erupt over the quality of genealogy education and the need for standards and accreditation. Self-paced and self-graded offerings will be spurned in lieu of instructor-led and graded options.

Social Media

  • The number of genealogy blogs will increase more than two-fold as more users become comfortable with the blogging concept. Look for 3,400 genealogy blogs listed at GeneaBloggers by the end 2011.
  • The genealogy community will continue to use Facebook as its main social media tool.
  • One word: aggregation. A trend towards taking various info sources (RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, search results, etc.) and creating an over-arching online news source will be offered to genealogists.
  • One long-time genealogy blogger will retire and be greatly missed.
  • Location-based social media programs, while all the rage elsewhere, won’t gain a foothold with genealogists.

Products and Services

  • QR codes will come into their own. Look for them on conference badges, vendor displays, and even on source documents and in libraries.
  • More mobile apps for genealogy will appear on the market and have an impact on genealogy research.

Odd, Bizarre and Unexplained

  • One well-known celebrity will become obsessed with genealogy and try to talk with dead relatives.
  • A major data discovery – data once thought entirely lost (similar to the 1890 US Census) will be discovered in August 2011. A large clamor over digitization will ensue.
  • One potential US Presidential candidate will have skeletons found in her closet by a prominent genealogist. Major news outlets will run with the story.
  • Two words: genealogy psychics.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

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