Thursday, September 8, 2011

FGS Conference Day 1 Summary

Day 1 at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Springfield, Illinois is over, and a fine day it was.  Here are my highlights:

1)  After breakfast at the hotel, I walked the 100 feet to the Convention Center and immediately ran into several geneabloggers and picked up my registration packet, including a nice bag sponsored by NEHGS, which included my tickets and the syllabus on a USB drive (thank you, FamilySearch).

2)  I wandered around a bit since the exhibit hall was not open, and finally found the meeting rooms downstairs.  I sat next to Jana B, and we discussed societies, people, and our grandchildren.  The Plenary Session was at 8:30 a.m., highlighted by David Rencher's presentation on "How Will Our Society Survive? Do We alter, Mutate, Modify, Shift or Switch?"  The answer is YES, one or several of the above.  David noted that one third of the FGS charter societies in 1976 have disbanded...and encouraged every society to embrace change and move into the 21st century in order to survive.  He discussed evaluating your society, identify value in the society, the services you could provide to members, how to provide those services, creating a business model, and to look for opportunities to change in order to include all members - old and new, local and distant - and how to market the society in today's environment.

3)  I couldn't pass up Thomas W. Jones and the "Editing the Society Newsletter" presentation (Tom was filling in for David Ouiment), since I'm the CVGS Newsletter Editor.  Tom described the goals of editing a newsletter as maintaining consistency, providing contrast and being clutter-free.  He listed the 14 parts of the typical newsletter, including many of the finer points of banners, body content, headings, eye catchers, tables, and figures.  The recommendations included having invisible columns, two or more of equal width, with sufficient margins.  Tom suggested that editors not be shy about editing content, and recommended using an active voice, eliminating unnecessary words, and more. 

4)  In the 11 a.m. session, I attended Jane Haldeman's session on "Internet Collaborative Tools for Genealogical Societies."  Jane reviewed file sharing options, online meetings, online group sharing, and Internet surveys and forms. 

5)  It was time for lunch, so I went to the Feed Store with Amy, Jen and Kathryn for sandwiches and soup.  We had a great time sharing and eating. 

6)  The 2 p.m. session I attended was Josh Taylor's "Engaging a New Generation of Genealogists."  Josh identified new audiences as "21sters," meaning they have an online presence, are under 45, technology oriented, and are looking for family stories.  They are largely untapped by societies, find printed resources and forms boring, avoid methodology, and it is essential for societies to engage them.  The question is how.  He suggested that societies create a task force, involving leaders, members and 21sters, to bridge the generations by finding new activities while not abandoning the old.  The 21ster has questions and needs to learn methodology, while the current members need to embrace technology.  He suggested partnering, consulting, case studies, community activities, mentoring, and involving 21sters in society activities, especially when they  can contribute technology expertise.

7)  Thomas MacEntee and Randy Whited led a spirited brainstorming session on "Social Media."  They briefly described the social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, blogs, etc.) and the audience asked questions and offered comments about them.  Many attendees are on Facebook, some are on Twitter and few are on Google Plus.

8)  I went back to the hotel in order to pick up Linda for dinner, and we ate at Bennigan's across the street. 

9)  At 6 p.m. we went into the Hilton Hotel for the Prairie Social hosted by FamilySearch.  The desserts were scrumptious, and the table conversation was excellent.  I discussed NC/TN research with Judy.  Abraham and Mary (Todd) Lincoln strolled around the ballroom, and I took Linda's picture with them.  The program started at 7 p.m., with introductions, Abe Lincoln talked about his ancestry and genealogy in general, there was the door prize drawing, and everybody went back to talking and mingling.  I had the pleasure of meeting Tina Lyons and Audrey Collins, and spoke to many geneabloggers in attendance.   

10)  We were back to our room at 8 p.m.  Linda fell asleep quickly after her big day sightseeing with friends, and I finally was able to read email and blogs, write this post, check Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

The highlight of the day was meeting geneabloggers I had not met in person before, and meeting Genea-Musings readers who recognized me and stopped me in the hall to tell me that they enjoy the blog.  I really appreciate my readers, and than you all for letting me spend a little time with you on your busy days. 

I took no pictures on Wednesday.  On Thursday, there will be a press conference after the Keynote Session, followed by the opening of the Exhibit Hall at 10 a.m.  I anticipate hanging out at the Media Hub for awhile, roaming the Exhibit Hall, and attending several learning sessions during the day.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Thanks for the update on the conference! I can be there "virtually" through the power of blogging!

Karen Trearchis said...

Randy, thanks for your post on FGS Conf. Day 1 Summary. Your summary was very informative! I realy enjoyed reading this, almost like being there! Thanks so much!

GeneGinny said...

Randy--Did you know that there's a pop-up survey attached to your blog now offering a free laptop for answering? Looked pretty suspicious. Ginny in Seattle

Deborah said...

Thanks for the FGS Conference Day Summary, Randy! I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more. Great job as usual!

Tina Lyons said...

It was wonderful to meet you and Linda. It's fun to see everyone in real life.