Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Genealogy Web sites You Can Use" presentation at NSDCGS COGG today

I gave my 80 minute "Genealogy Web Sites You Can Use" presentation today at the Computer Oriented Genealogy Group (COGG) meeting of the North San Diego County Genealogical Society (NSDCGS). The setup and execution went well, thanks to the folks at NSDCGS.

Since Carlsbad Library is 43 miles from home on often-clogged rush-hour freeways, I left home at 8:15 a.m., and was in the Carlsbad Library parking lot by 9:10 a.m - no problem! I met Pauline, the COGG program planner, and we went over to the City Council Chambers. This is an auditorium setting with a podium with a fixed microphone, with a hookup to an LCD projector set up by NSDCGS. I was all hooked up and ready to go by 9:30! That left time to meet new people, see old friends, have a little snackerdoodle, and visit the facilities.

After a little business, Pauline introduced me at about 10:15 a.m. I launched into my talk, which is a summary of genealogy information currently available on the Internet. The slides discussed large database sites, family tree sites, data portal sites, some topic-specific web sites. I also had a list of commercial databases available for free access at local libraries. The last slides showed some screens from Genseek.com, WorldHistory.com and NewFamilySearch, and my "guess" as to where genealogy on the Internet is going - more online indexed images (lots more!), more wiki formats, more social networking applications, and more software-to-database connections (bypass GEDCOMs).

There were about 70 people in attendance. I ran slightly over my 11:30 a.m. time limit. I couldn't move around as much as I like because of the fixed microphone. The audience seemed responsive, and asked a few questions during my "fire hose" spew of genealogy sites. I provided a four-page handout, and a link to a PDF version, so that they didn't have to write down all of the URLs in the presentation.

I like to ask some questions of the audience before this talk. I asked these questions (and asked for a show of hands, the percentages are my estimates):

Q: Do you use the Internet for your genealogy research?
A: All but one in attendance said YES, but this was a Computer oriented group.

Q: How often do you use the Internet?
A: at least daily - about 40%; at least weekly - about 80%; at least monthly - about 95%

Q: Do you subscribe to Ancestry.com?
A: About 40% said they did

Q: Do you subscribe to other commercial web sites?
A: About 30% said they did

Q: Have you posted a Family Tree on a web site?
A: About 25% raised their hand. That surprised me - I always figure that more people do this.

Q: Do you have your own web site?
A: One person raised their hand. That really surprised me, for a computer oriented group.

Q: How often do you visit the NSDCGS web site?
A: At least daily - about 5%; at least weekly - about 20%; at least monthly - about 70%.

Q: Have you visited an FHC in the last month?
A: About 30% said they had.

Q: Have you visited a genealogy library in the last month?
A: About 75% raised their hand - this was right next door to the best genealogy library in San Diego County.

After the meeting, Pauline invited me to lunch with her and several friends. We went to Hennessey's Tavern in Carlsbad and had a great hamburger (two-for-one) and wonderful conversation. We were back to the library at 1 p.m. and I headed home.

Thank you to Gordon Hoard, the NSDCGS President, and his Board for planning and executing a good, fun meeting. I hope that they got their money's worth!

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