Ancestry Announces “Ancestry Labs” and “PersonView”

Ancestry.com today announced “Ancestry Labs” containing a beta project called “PersonView.”  Here’s the announcement as it was gievn to me under embargo on Friday afternoon:

We’re launching Ancestry.com Labs – and we’d love you’re feedback

Today we are announcing a new “labs” area of Ancestry.com. This is a part of the site that will allow us to test new ideas and concepts, give you a preview of what we’re thinking for the future, and allow us to hear feedback directly from you.

The projects we place in this area are likely to be early prototypes, and although some of them may make their way into the main Ancestry.com site, some may not. Much depends on your feedback.

The first prototype that we’re launching today is codenamed “Person View” and we’re testing two new ideas:

1.     Person consolidation – can we group records and trees together in a way that better exposes the relationships between records?

2.     Web records – can we find records on the web that match your query (from outside of Ancestry.com’s collections), and then link you directly to them?

You can access the labs website through this URL: http://www.ancestry.com/labs and you can see a quick demo of how it works here: http://screencast.com/t/Y2NiYWM2Y

I’ve been evaluating PersonView for the past few months as one of several bloggers and writers to do so at the invitation of Ancestry.com. In January, I was one of several bloggers invited to Provo to discuss upcoming projects.  At that time, Ancestry’s “New Search” was discussed in some detail and we were given indications that something beyond that was to follow.   And now it has.

I’ve long been in favor of the so-called “person-centric” search and with the beta PersonView, Ancestry.com has got it conceptually correct.  There are a few things that could be different or better; we’ll discuss these in the coming days.

One interesting aspect is the Web search feature that’s part of PersonView.  Ancestry.com, recalling certain difficult events in its not-too-distant past, asked the bloggers and writers what we thought of that feature and solicited ideas about how to link to the source sites.  I can see that some of what was suggested by members of the group has been incorporated into the Web search feature.

Some folks are certainly likely to say that some of this looks strikingly similar to FamilySearch.org’s beta site. [And remember FamilySearch Labs?] It does in some ways.  That doesn’t bother me; in fact, that may be one of the good things.  We’ll explain that in coming days as well.

Some are also likely to say that other Internet companies have had “lab” sites and the outreach is not new.  And of course, some genealogy software, like RootsMagic, has had Web search capability already.

But I think having the Labs site and the PersonView project are a great step forward not only for Ancestry.com,  but for the entire industry.

I’ve received no compensation of any sort whatsoever from Ancestry.com or any else for my  participation in early evaluation or for my opinions in this post or elsewhere.

More to come!

Others writing on this topic:

Randy Seaver, Genea-musings: Ancestry Labs and PersonView: A First Look

Craig


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