Advanced warning: This is one of my periodic rants, I thought you might want to know, just so you don't try to read this while eating or doing any other activity.
Do we really want to dumb down genealogy? It seems like there is a significant movement to make genealogy easier, faster, and simple enough for anyone to do. Is this even possible? Or desirable? Can we cater to the "instant satisfaction" generation in the complicated and challenging area of genealogy? Is genealogy a product that has to be "improved" so it can compete in the marketplace? Take a look at this page and tell me how you are going to simplify this for a beginning genealogist?
This happens to be a copy of the Italy, Civil Registration, 1805-1940 from Bologna. Tell me how you are going to convince a novice beginner that getting to the point of reading and using this record is painless and simple? Not to mention fun and exciting? Let's get real. Genealogy is a complicated and challenging pursuit. Sugar coating the difficulties does not help anyone. I would venture to say that many (if not nearly all) the people who are reading this post did not start out in genealogy because someone told them how easy and fun it would be.
I had no allusions about genealogy whatsoever when I started out. I recognized immediately that it took real work to get to the records and sometimes money, travel, and a lot of effort. Just because a huge number of records are now more readily available does not diminish the effort needed to get to the answers in genealogy. Don't trivialize my passion by telling me that what I am doing can be done by a high school student on an iPad. That is simply not true.
I do agree that, as a community, we need to be open and supportive of those starting out. But I don't agree that we need splashy media ads telling the world that doing genealogy is as easy as playing video games. When we concentrate on the beginner, sometimes we marginalize the experts. I am really tired of being considered an expert in genealogy simply because I know how to do a Google search. Genealogy is so much more than filling in blanks in a variety of search engines.
OK, so what got me started on this topic? I guess it was partly the cartoon introduction to the U.S. Census records and the 5 minute genealogy series. Why does everything in the world have to be simplified? Some things are only attractive and desirable if they are complicated and challenging. Do we all want genealogy to be over in an hour long TV show?