The internet and Google books is making genealogy research so much more efficient.
Back in the day, listservs and websites like rootsweb connected people more than documents. With Google Books and paid websites like Ancestry (and to a lesser extent, the LDS) the documents are there to be examined. For example, doing a search on Neilings found the info below:
What is still missing–having local newspapers online. I have found a wealth of information about moves, occupations, and events by looking in the vertical files of local historical societies. I would pay a fee to have access to that information.