The availability of the Internet in the mid-’90s transformed family history research as more and more records were digitized and put online. Websites like Ancestry.com provided subscribers with tools to research and catalog their family trees. People were able to make a connection to their past and had the ability to dig deeper and go back further.
This relatively sedate business was given a significant jolt when someone figured that you could use a DNA test to establish a person’s ethnicity. Suddenly, DNA test labs started popping up and all of the major family history websites took advantage to offer DNA testing services as a premium product offering.
The market for direct to consumer DNA testing is already worth over $1Bn and is still growing, but it’s a competitive business and naturally, customers and analysts are looking to see where the family history business is likely to develop next.
Perhaps the clues are right in front of us. Prior to DNA testing, family history research was mostly about the people you found in the past; the great, great grandmother who emigrated or the great uncle who fought in a major war. It was about peeling back the shroud of the past to see who you would find.
DNA testing has subtly shifted the focus. It’s no longer about the people we find, it’s more about finding out who am I?
Without most people realizing it, family history has become a lot more about personal history. If you accept this trend, then the question is what these more self-aware customers will want going forward?
We believe that the epiphany that family historians will come to recognize is that they are the ancestors of the people of the future. They are the people who will be shrouded and lost, unless they make a concerted effort to the contrary.
The solution to this problem is for people to document and preserve their life stories, pulling together the audio, video, photos, and social media interactions that highlight their lives. It’s a statement of “This is who I am, and this is how I want to be remembered”.
Once created, the LifeStory needs to be made accessible for generations to come, which of course is the greater challenge. How can you ensure that the LifeStory that you create today will still be accessible in 100 years?
It’s a challenge. There’s no mistaking that, but it’s a challenge that we’re meeting head-on, here at LifeStories. We’ve developed the tools to create LifeStories. Now we’re building the infrastructure to persist those LifeStories long into the future.
Follow us on Facebook as we build for the future @LifeStoriesInt.