I read an interesting story today. The story was online, of course. An Associated Press article reports that when college students do research online these days, many educators worry that students never look for information in books they way they used to. If they can avoid a trip to the library at all, many students gladly will.
The article is about college students, not genealogists. Yet, as I read the article, I began to wonder if the same is becoming true for genealogists: go to Google, search and scroll results, click and copy.
With a bit more reflection, I then asked myself, "Is this a bad thing? Just because books have been around for centuries doesn't automatically mean that books are better than anything else. Everyone questions accuracy in online genealogy sites and yet I can show you hundreds, if not thousands, of genealogy books that have errors."
Is it possible that online is the better method and all that we have to do is to increase quality standards? If we could increase today's accuracy level so that it meets or exceeds published genealogy books, wouldn't "genealogy by Google searches" be better than a trip to the library to read published secondary sources (that also have inaccuracies)?
I do not know all the answers but I do know there are some interesting questions.
You can read the Associated Press' article on CNN.com and probably on other sites as well.