Volunteers spend hundreds of thousand of hours creating indexes of genealogical material in archives.
Libraries and societies buy and hold the indexes. The books live where people can help you use them. People meet to learn and do genealogy together.
Some indexes transition to digital and and the new internet.
Computer indexing of digital copies of records begins. People can now see copies of records online at home. Corporations begin to gather records for profit purposes.
Massive amounts of people get access to these digital records. Access to records is controlled by large private organizations.
Typing in one name in a database can bring back tens of thousands of possible records. It’s easy to attach the wrong record to an ancestor. The record’s context is lost.
No live person is available to help use or understand the record set. People mostly do the work alone at home. No one learns together how to do genealogy.
A community effort that becomes a solitary one controlled by private interests has an unpredictable future.