30    Jan 20130 comments

Innovation: What’s next?

When was the last time you used a typewriter?

Technology crept into my life when I switched from my beloved black portable manual Remington typewriter to an IBM electric.

Just a few years ago - relatively speaking - personal computers were just appearing on the scene. We researched the old-fashioned way - handwriting letters, loading rolls of film in our cameras, visiting dusty archives and winding through endless rolls of microfilm in resource centers. It took hours of effort to search for family information.

Today we connect in ways we couldn't imagine only a short time ago. We communicate almost instantaneously with email and messaging, and we access ever-expanding Internet resources for family history. Everyone is connected by computer, by smartphone, by technology.

Once upon a time, my tech arsenal consisted of an electric typewriter. Period.

Today, there’s an all-in-one scanner-copier-fax, a desktop PC with large flat screen monitor, a large, heavy laptop (now retired), a mini-netbook (for travel, semi-retired), a newish iPad, a new Kindle Fire HD, digital camera, cellphone (not yet a smartphone) and other personal devices. I know I need a portable scanner!

I’m not really a techie, so each new device means some frustration - and excitement - until I learn how to use it.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites keep us connected, and there are genealogy pages and groups on those sites, as well as family websites here at MyHeritage. These advances help us find and stay in touch with far-flung relatives.

What can we expect tomorrow? What new equipment or software will help us connect with family members around the world?

While not all our research can be done at home in our pajamas and bunny slippers, we do see more and more resources accessible online, making everything easier.

More organizations with important archives understand that records and resources are more useful if more people can access them. Scanning and digitizing projects and website data collections are increasing, for free or for paid access. Developing better retrieval and search techniques, more mobile apps, social media and new web technologies go hand-in-hand with improved data collection and cataloging.

Innovation is the lifeblood of genealogy. Most genealogical conferences address the future, offering demonstrations of new equipment, software, techniques and tools, new projects and trends.

Do you wonder what's coming next? This is an exciting time to be a genealogist!

What about a flat roll-up screen with a pen and touch screen? Just roll it up and put it in your pocket?

What are your predictions for future technology? What would you like to see as the next best bit of innovation?

Let us know in the comments below.

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