Many of us get so caught up in trumpeting the benefits of newer and better technology, we may lose sight of those who live either outside the present technology or chose to ignore it entirely. In the past few weeks I have seen a number of people who are not only challenged by the changes but altogether resistant. One example, today in a class about subscription Websites for genealogy, one of the class members, and LDS Ward Family History Consultant, was concerned about how the material would go over with her friend who didn't have an Internet connection. The friend was seeking help in doing her family history, but either did not have the money or the motivation to get online.
The question was how could the person do their genealogy without using Personal Ancestral File and how could they obtain the program without an Internet connection. As a matter of fact, the program is available on CD from the LDS Church Distribution for a nominal price. I asked whether or not the person had a CD drive on their computer? However, the class member did not know the answer.
Another student in the same class was trying to determine which genealogical database program to use. I spoke to her of several and she was still undecided how to proceed. She kept referring to her handwritten pedigree chart, which she admitted that she hadn't looked at since college.
I recall that the introductory materials for the LDS Church's New FamilySearch program had a number of sequences of individuals throughout the world who had no access to computer technology of their own, but had to rely on others to enter the information they had gathered by hand, into the New FamilySearch program.
Maybe, we forget that you can still do family history with a pencil and a piece of paper. Just as you can still walk across the U.S. Not that I would want to try either, but the possibility still exists.
On the other hand, the problem of resistance to technology is deeper than an inability to merely participate. During the past couple of years, I have been working on various research projects with the goal of applying for some kind of certification. It is interesting to me, that neither of the major genealogical certification organizations seem to recognize the changes effected by the technology. They are essentially still in a paper and pencil world. The certifications still focus on relatively small geographic areas and neither the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) nor the International Commission for the Accreditation of Genealogists (ICAPGen) recognize a specialty in online research, independent of geographic location. The BCG even has a weight limit for the amount of paper to be included with their application!! Why not submit everything on CD? or even online?
In another example, there is no sense of place or location, as such, on the Internet and it is indicative of a resistance to technology in the failure of the certification boards lack of recognition of people who "live on the Web" and are still emphasizing research limited to small geographic areas.
The counter-argument is simple, you still have to have certain basic skills to do good or adequate research, but there are those without those specific skills who can still do genealogy and there are those with technological skills that do not necessarily conform to the traditional method of "doing genealogy."
More thoughts later.