One prize in the genealogy community that is yet to be won is that of “the Google of Genealogy.” (I was thinking it would be funny to speak of the “Google of Genealogy” and the “Mother of All Googles of Genealogy.” That would make the two GOG and MAGOG. Unfortunately, humor and religion rarely mix well without someone taking offense. So I’ve opted for digression over transgression…)
In any case, the prize is yet to be claimed. Recent unsubstantiated rumor sent to the Insider point to another shot at the title by Ancestry.com.
Clues have surfaced linking web crawling by agents of Ancestry.com as early as the beginning of this year. The indications point to Google-style indexing of publicly accessible data on sites such as
- Grand Traverse County Records, Michigan
- Green-Wood, New York’s Historic Cemetery
- Western States Marriages, BYU Idaho
- Tacoma Area Obituaries, Washington
- Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Such a search service would be of tremendous value. Using Google for genealogy searches is hampered because Google first gathers text from across the Internet with little regard for semantics. Then it tries to figure out semantics afterwards. Semantics refers to the meaning of the text, such as what is a name, what is a date, what is a place, and what is the relationship among these. The Google of Genealogy would index genealogical information for which the semantics were already known. In other words, the website has already identified names, places, and relationships.
This is a concept whose time has come. We’ll keep a couple of eyes open watching for further progress in this area. If you see anything, let me know.