About Laryn Brown

Laryn is a Sr. Product Manager at Ancestry.com and joined the company in 1998 as the first product manager, then went on to launch Ancestry.co.uk as the first international website with the Ancestry brand. Currently he is the product manager for a small Research and Development team focused on natural language extraction from OCR and web crawled source material. Prior to working in R&D, Laryn managed the Document Preservation team. This team digitizes and indexes all of Ancestry’s historical records globally. He has also worked as the head of content partnership development, based in London. Working in genealogy as a profession and a hobby, Laryn is actively involved in the genealogy community. The threads of his own genealogy include Birmingham bricklayers, Canadian homesteaders, American colonists, and Norwegian farmers.

Past Articles

The Importance of Context in Resolving Ambiguous Place Data

Posted on July 10, 2014 in Big Data, Uncategorized

When interpreting historical documents for the intent of researching your ancestors, you are often presented with less than perfect data. Many of the records that are the backbone of family history research are bureaucratic scraps of paper filled out decades ago in some government building. We should hardly be surprised when the data entered is… Read more

Inferring Familiar Relationships From Historical Data Features (Part 2)

Posted on February 28, 2014 in Big Data

In my previous post, I outlined some of the problems and strategies we use at Ancestry.com to determine if two people who appear in the same household are related. As promised, I want to focus this time on how to resolve ambiguous results. In my early days of doing family history research, I made an… Read more

Inferring Familiar Relationships From Historical Data Features (Part 1)

Posted on December 13, 2013 in Big Data

In the recent uncovering of NSA activity revealed by Edward Snowden, we see that the relationships between people can be some of the most valuable data that can be inferred from big data. The knowledge of who a person knows, who they have contacted, and who they are related to is apparently critical information for… Read more

Hourglass-shaped Data Processing

Posted on September 3, 2013 in Big Data

One of the insights that I brought to my current job from the localization industry many years ago is the idea that you should create once and export or publish many times. In that industry we had the concept of an asset – say an instruction manual on how to use your microwave – that… Read more

Location, Location, Location

Posted on June 4, 2013 in Big Data

Location, Location, Location – the importance of normalized place information in historical records One of the many challenges facing family history researchers is the changeable nature of things that at first blush feel immutable. The old church in the town square seems to have existed from the beginning of time, the place we call Los… Read more

Big Data from Historical Sources

Posted on March 19, 2013 in Big Data

At Ancestry we have a specific team dedicated to working on new technologies to extract information from historical sources of “Big Data.” One example is the U.S. City Directory collection. A precursor to modern telephone books, city directories listed all of the inhabitants of a city, along with their address, occupation, and often their spouse’s… Read more