First of all, I loved the venue. Very spacious and contemporary. For those quick enough to have snagged a room at the Hilton, or even the Marriott, this had to be an even better experience (My new conference goal from now on - staying in the adjoining hotel - it does make a difference, comfort-wise). Probably my only complaint, which could have been remedied by the conference planners: we needed charging stations! The plugs for charging devices were few and far between....or just in a hallway with no bench. Floor campers next to the plugs was a common sight.
Mums the Word!Ok, I was one of those singing the praises of the un-conferencing sessions that are so popular at RootsTech. So, naturally, I was delighted to see this concept included at FGS (called GenSpiration Sessions) - apparently this was the third year offering this feature - but no one got excited about this option. In fact, it was so sad to see the four boards that represented each day of the conference, sitting there, practically naked every day. I think throughout the course of the conference, only two brave souls posted a session for folks to attend. I have not given up on this concept and I hope the conference planners give it another try. I'm really hoping it gains popularity soon!
Twitter was once again a hugely favorite way to keep up with attendees this year! The hashtag #FGS2013 was trending due to the frequency and volume of tweets coming out of Fort Wayne. The conference planners featured this activity with a large screen running the visibletweets.com site to display the activity. It was very pretty and colorful, with very large print to read across the room. I liked this display, but I found that I soon got tired of it since it was not real-time....instead, running tweets that could be as old as 14+ hours. With a real-time stream of the hashtag activity, non-Twitter users might have better understood the shear popularity and high-octane vibe that comes with this rapid fire/energetic form of social communication.
The current trend of supplementing your genealogy with stories and memories is not losing any steam. Perhaps the trend is not as strong as at RootsTech, but look at this lovely little addition to the exhibit hall by Family Search to capture the stories of those who were willing to share! I'm thinking the addition of plexi partitions might lessen the distraction that had to be felt by person in the spotlight!
Kudos to the FGS folks again for keeping the Cyber Cafe concept alive and well! I think the addition of charging stations around the couches would go over swimmingly with this crowd. With each new conference, the technology is changing fast! By far, I saw more tablets this year than ever before. Some are still using laptops, and I admit to bringing mine for my blogging back in the room during the evenings, but I too have transitioned into being a tablet attendee, and my shoulders love me for it! I did hear some complaints about the wi-fi being too spotty, etc. I didn't have too much of a problem with this - but the deeper I went into the building during sessions, the weaker the signal got....at least in my experience.
One thing I adore about conferences is the cutting edge announcements that get released during the crowded events. It is one reason why bloggers are given access to a media hub - they want us all to get excited and spread the word! For 2013, the biggest announcement by far was the 2015 merger of RootsTech and FGS in Salt Lake City. Apparently this is a one time only merger, but it does move FGS into February that year. It also means these two conferences will take up the entire Salt Palace Convention Center - I heard folks already talking about whether they could reserve their hotel room this early! Yep, I admit, this one got me really excited too - come on 2015! The other news released to us was by Family Search - lots of upcoming projects and developments, including new discovery centers and satellite locations for RootsTech....I will cover some of those more in-depth at a later date.
And don't forget about the Preserve the 1812 Pension Project! This was the theme for the entire conference, which made for a very visually arresting set of events and activities - complete with quilts and ballgowns! Here is a link for you to join the effort and learn more!
I cannot thank the conference planners and ACPL staff enough! This was a great city choice, a great venue, and things went swimmingly...except for a few snags that are common with every conference...I do not envy you your job, but I am increasingly impressed with how well things progressed, and how much you made our conference experience another rousing success!
I would say "see you all next year"....but San Antonio might be just too far out of my travel range. But
Night all! Let the post conference coma commence!!
P.S. The rest of the blogging crew did a wonderful job! Thanks to Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings who gathered all of our posts into one place for easy browsing: http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/08/fgs-conference-blog-compendium.html