Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ancestry.com announces Ancestry Séance

Ancestry Séance, an April First new service This first day of April, Ancestry.com announced yet another new service to help members investigate their family history: Ancestry Séance. According to company president, Tim Sullivan,

There comes a time in each genealogist's research when ancestral lines hit a dead end. Sometimes it seems an ancestor simply popped into existence. Or available records dry up. What genealogist hasn't thought to themselves, "If I could only talk to this person, I know what I would ask." With Ancestry Séance, now you can!

Ancestry Séance is a service that allows customers to pose a question to an ancestor and get an actual answer back, usually within 48 hours. According to the press release,

Amelia Earhart Imagine the thrill of solving the Amelia Earhart mystery. Think how easy it will be to jump the pond once you know where to find your immigrant's birth town. Learn the true story behind Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance. Choose between the two John Smiths in your ancestor's town. Prove your illegitimate descent from King Charles II of England.

Ancestry.com chief technology officer, Michael Wolfgramm, explained how the technology works.

We employ a sophisticated network of trained and experienced Jamaican psychics. Using the same technology we employ for the World Archives Project, each question is automatically routed to an entire array of psychic specialists in the topic area. Human error is virtually eliminated by a special computer algorithm that employs a statistic model to filter their responses. The system is completely integrated into Ancestry Member Trees, which makes it easy for users and psychics to precisely the target the same individual, eliminating expensive and time-consuming mistargetting.

When asked if genealogists will actually use a system that flies in the face of traditional evidence-based family history, company spokesperson Mike Ward said, "Hey, look how many happy customers we have that depend almost exclusively on customer-submitted family trees with obvious inconsistencies and totally devoid of any sources."

However, critics have already come forward. Said first generation American, Ape Ralph Ools,

This is psycho. Why did Ancestry.com not choose American workers to contact our ancestors? The offshore psychic reader is cheap, that's why. There's no Jamaican psychic can read my ancestry better than an American.

Ward countered, "This move is actually good for genealogy. It's bothered us for a long time that in the Lifestyles category Zodiac websites outperform Genealogy. Sure, Ancestry.com stands to make a lot of money from this move, but we're really doing this for the good of the industry."

seance

Interested customers need to act quickly. This special offer is good today only. Happy April Fools, everyone. Until next year, stay tuned...

Image credit: Cease Fire Studios, "The Seance - 4/31," flickr (www.flickr.com : accessed 29 March 2009); remixed with permission.

6 comments:

  1. We've been waiting years for this type of breakthrough. In the case of my relative who's already reputed to be a ghost will Ancestry offer a discount?

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  2. I started laughing about 3 sentences in and continued all the way to the end of the "press release." Thanks for a great way to start my computer experience today. Sooo much better than Conficker!

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  3. One of the big problems they've had during alpha testing is ancestors who lie. Maybe next year Ancestry Labs will release "Ancestry Lie Detector."

    -- The A.I.

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  4. I got an even greater laugh as I felt I as really being humored by last weeks column. See http://www.examiner.com/x-2494-Genealogy-Examiner~y2009m4d1-Humor-us-some-more

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  5. this was just toooo awesome..

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