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My heritage in my pocket: mobile device and app use by genealogy tourists

Abstract

In the not-so-distant past, genealogists and family history hobbyists had to lug around heavy boxes, documents, and copious notes and references as they travelled to discover their family roots. Technological advances in mobile devices and applications have created efficiencies and opened paths of exploration that facilitate researching genealogical roots while travelling. This research employs a netnographic approach in studying genealogy blogs, social media, and websites to see how genealogy tourists use mobile devices and apps. Mobile apps used by genealogists are categorized into a taxonomy which shows the plethora of apps and functions that genealogists can rely on before, during and after a trip. The paper then analyzes how smartphone use in general, and mobile app use in particular, affect genealogy tourism. It is found that travelling genealogists use their mobile devices and apps extensively throughout all travel phases to plan and prepare for trips, to conduct and inform their research, and to share their findings. Genealogy tourists also use technology to create and tap into a virtual collective of like-minded others by sharing their knowledge online to help others, acting as a teacher, but at other times may post questions and seek others’ knowledge, as a learner. As such, the study contributes to ongoing efforts to better understand the impact of mobile technologies on travel.

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Correspondence to Heather Kennedy-Eden.

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Kennedy-Eden, H., Gretzel, U. My heritage in my pocket: mobile device and app use by genealogy tourists. Inf Technol Tourism 23, 327–350 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40558-021-00206-5

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Keywords

  • Mobile apps
  • Genealogy
  • Taxonomy
  • Technology impact
  • Smartphone