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The intensive part is of course the transcription of the information, in this case 32
million names which are listed on about 1.5 million pages.The transcription will be carried
out by the Enterprise Supply Services (ESS), an agency of the Prison Service, which is a
subcontractor of QinetiQ.
According to the Public Records Office, these businesses "are run and managed to fully
professional commercial standards and they are fully ISO9000 quality approved. (...) We are
well aware that the transcription is the key element of the 1901 Project and we have put in
place a series of quality measures and checks to ensure a very high standard to the finished
product."
These measures include:
"Only fully trained operators who have demonstrated consistent accuracy will be used.
No transcript can be 100% accurate but ESS will aim to get as close to that as possible. All
entries will be double keyed - i.e. literally typed in twice, by different operators, and one
operator will not know who the other operator is; software will be used to check any
inconsistencies between the two versions and trained personnel will seek to resolve the
inconsistencies.The transcript will then be checked by ESS.The work by ESS will be
checked again by QinetiQ using a team led by a professional quality engineer. It will then
be checked by the PRO's own Quality Assessment team led by expert staff."
As the example above illustrates, turning records into goldmines is laborious, and one
always has to protect the "claim".The Public Records Office notes:"We recognise that
there is currently some expressed demand for microfiche and in 2002 we will review the
sale of microfiche beyond record offices and libraries."
Building a commercial genealogy network
The network business model
Being successful in selling subscriptions for online information services implies more
than just offering digitised information. Content is one necessary element of the business,
yet there need to be other important ingredients for an economically prospering enterprise.
In many cases the community aspect is an important one. In genealogy, this aspect is of
major importance, in that the genealogy organisation provides for the users a kind of
"virtual family". Nevertheless, the fundamental asset is the digital content, i.e. huge online
data bases of public information, where those interested in family history can find what
they need to (re-)construct their family history - factual evidence, info bits, traces.
It is a key principle of commercial genealogy service providers to build their business
models on the triangle of content, community, and e-commerce, understanding all three as
important ingredients of the business, rather than the first two as simple means to drive
users directly to the commercial offers (e.g subscriptions, software, books, etc.).
There is flexibility in the model for different entities to participate and be part of the
business: Content builders, community networks and platforms, and e-commerce web sites.
Yet, companies that target the genealogy market are heading to dominate all three main
ingredients of the model, and are adapting them perfectly to the demands of private family
historians.
VIII EXPLOITATION