genealogy, family history, context preservation


What can you possibly do to be productive as a family history researcher in 20 minutes per week? Our studies suggest that currently the answer is, “Nothing.” In 20 minutes a would-be researcher can’t even remember what happened last week, let alone what they were planning to do next. The 20-Minute Genealogist is a powerful metaphor within which software solutions must consider context preservation as the fundamental domain of the system, thus freeing the researcher to do research while the software manages the tasks that computers do best. Two survey-based studies were conducted that indicate a significant disconnect between the values espoused by would-be researchers and the actual level of time spent by those same individuals. Our preliminary results suggest that the overhead involved in context preservation is the predominant inhibitor of family history research productivity among those who claim that such work is very important, yet fail in their efforts.

Original Publication Citation

C. Knutson, J. Krein, (29). "The 2-Minute Genealogist: A Context-Preservation Metaphor for Assisted Family History Research." Proceedings of the 9th Annual Workshop on Technology for Family History and Genealogical Research.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Brigham Young University




Physical and Mathematical Sciences


Computer Science