Custin University of Technology

Project Description

This project is the PhD research study of Kylie Veale, a Media and Information PhD candidate in Internet Studies, with Curtin University of Technology in Australia.

The main research question for her thesis is: how do amatuer genealogists use the Internet, and what are the
consequences of the development of genealogy as a
significant Internet-based amatuer activity?

Project Abstract

Research evidence shows the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on our society and the way we live everyday. Consequently, as the Internet influences the many aspects of everyday lives, hobbyist interests have also been enhanced and changed by the Internet as a social technology. One hobby, genealogy, has risen to be one of the most popular online, providing an opportunity to understand the use of the Internet within the broader context of hobbyist usage.

As a result, the purpose of this research program is to examine how genealogists use the Internet, and to investigate the consequences of the development of genealogy as a significant Internet-based activity. The research will trace a history of access and technology revolutions within the hobby, leading to the use of the Internet as a major part of genealogy. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, the research will investigate the phenomena of genealogy online as conducted by, and for, the online genealogical community, in terms of publishing, interacting, transacting, and collaborating activities.

Finally, the research will draw broader conclusions from specific examples of online genealogy issues. Topics such as information veracity and quality, on account of new entrants not being socialised into the values, skills, and methods of genealogy; the ease of publication and sharing of information facilitating problems with privacy and stolen identities; and the capacity to both enhance collaborative and voluntary information sharing, while at the same time enabling the commercialisation of those activities in ways that produce conflict and concern, when matched with the traditions of volunteerism in genealogy, and in fact the Internet itself.

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