ThinkGenealogy Innovator Awards

Monday, 8 Dec 2008 | by Mark Tucker

ThinkGenealogy wants to recognize innovation in genealogy and family history.  So, if you find a book, software feature, methodology approach or otherwise that you think is innovative then send an e-mail to: mail at thinkgenealogy dot com.  If enough nominations come in for a specific item, then it will be recognized with an Innovator award. 

There are two types of awards: Thinker’s Pick and Community Choice. 


The Thinker’s Pick award is given for innovation that I want to personally recognize whereas Community Choice comes from nominations received from the genealogy community.  It is possible for a specific innovation to receive both types of awards and for an item (like a software application) to receive more than one award for different features.  I want to make it clear that these awards are not limited to software.  I am sure there will be plenty of software nominations, but please keep your eyes open for other areas of innovation in genealogy.

To make a nomination include:

  • Name of the item (book, software application, etc.)
  • What specific part or feature you find innovative.
  • A link to a website (for the company, author, etc.)
  • Whether it is an incremental innovation or a “jumping curves”-type innovation. (see below)

To be nominated, an item must:

  1. be relatively recent (2007 or newer)
  2. must be published, released (no beta software), or publically available

The award design and the term “jumping curves” come from Guy Kawasaki’s presentation, “The Art of Innovation.”  The idea is that innovators strive to do things not just 10-15% better, but 10x better.  So instead of incrementally making changes on the curve they currently are on, innovators need to jump to the next curve of innovation.  Better still are those that are able to create the next curve.

A few months ago I attended a lecture given by a Google employee.  He identified three types of innovation:

  1. Incremental
  2. Incremental with side effects
  3. Transformational

These same concepts are talked about in a talk on Innovation at Google by Google ex-CTO, Douglas Merrill.

The perspective from both Guy and Douglas are similar.  Transformational maps nicely to “Jumping Curve” innovation and there is also incremental.  Once you jump to the next curve, you incrementally innovate along that curve while keeping an eye out for the next curve. 

These awards are to recognize all types of innovation.  Winners of the award will be able to display it on their website.

I already have a few Thinker’s Picks that I will be revealing soon.


  1. My nomination would have to go to the freeBMD project ( Launched in 1999, they passed a critical milestone by 1 Jan 2009 – having more than 200,000,000 entries indexed, with near total coverage of UK Births, Marriages & Deaths online from the start of national registration in 1837 up until 1920 (and growing). I believe that this is one of the most transformational steps for UK genealogy research, since for the researcher, it makes it possible for the index references to be found online rather than taking a trip into London to spend hours scanning through the large index books, and secondly because it has been achieved entirely through an enormous army of volunteers – using “crowdsourcing” in its truest sense. The organisers of this effort deserve recognition of this achievement for their enthusiasm to sustain these efforts, and maintain funding over a prolonged period (10 years).

    Comment by Steve Foote — 6 Jul 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  2. Mark – if you think Genedocs warrants an innovation award nomination then go for it as i’m working hard to get the word out.

    Comment by Eric — 17 Feb 2010 @ 11:31 am

  3. Google Genedocs and see for yourself how pedigree charts can now have photos, bilings, customized comments, and source information using everyday MS Office products.

    How much more would we know had our ancestors had family group sheet templates that allowed a couple and up to 24 of their children to all be on the same sheet with portraits of each of them?

    Comment by Eric — 7 Apr 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  4. Would you consider a website at

    Comment by Gary — 22 Dec 2011 @ 12:52 pm

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