Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NGS2012 Reflections: Part 2 "Review"

I am going to use the word "Review" a bit loosely here as I've only been to a handful of genealogy conferences, and NGS2012 was only my second NGS conference. However, once everyone returns home, there are always moments or features/events that stick out in your mind - both good and bad. Here are some of my observations about this year's NGS:
1. Syllabus on a Stick! Yes please! Love this current trend/move in a future direction! CDs are nice, but flash drives are just more practical these days, especially with so many people traveling the conference circuit with their tablets. Most smaller devices, either tablets or netbooks don't come with CD-ROM drives, so this move to the flash drive concept is very attendee friendly! As you can see from my photo above, I did actually opt for buying the print syllabus as an additional perk, but there was really only one reason I did this - ok, maybe two - First, it was my first conference as a speaker, and I wanted something to pass down in tangible form to remember the event by - and Second, Cincinnati is within driving distance of my home, so I DID NOT have to get it home on a plane! This is probably the only time I will ever opt for the print version. As for syllabus access prior to the start of the conference, I did hear some complaints from my tech-savy friends who were wanting to download the syllabus and open it up to take notes while sitting in the session. Since everything came as pdf, this was not possible - but I think they found some work-arounds. Personally, this was not a problem for me as I am a stream of consciousness note taker. I open a new note on the tablet (in Evernote), title it to match the session I'm in and jot down what I want to remember. Sadly, I am not organized enough to later match my notes to the syllabus page, but someday....

2. 1940 Census - I finally got one of those darned t-shirts!! Ever since RootsTech, the Family Search folks have been walking around, wearing these cute advertisements for the census release - just taunting us and not offering the ability to actually get one! They had even said they might offer us the opportunity to purchase one from their web site, but they never got around to that option....Grrrrr! So, finally, the t-shirts were free for the taking at NGS2012 - one catch though, you had to sit and index TWO batches of the census! Two was a great idea in theory, but after watching the backlog of people trying to use one of the computer terminals, ONE batch per t-shirt would have been a much better arrangement! Oh - one other amazing memory - I got to meet the 1940 Census lady from NARA - Connie Potter - she is one of my genealogy heroes, and she was just as sweet in person!

3. Overall session offerings - Very nicely done! I liked the local track that was implemented (otherwise I would not have spoken this year) which catered to those who might research in the area further. The hardcore certification and citation sessions were here plus a very nice technology track to balance everything out.

4. Exhibit Hall - The space itself was a bit dated with the enormous concrete arena from the 1970s, but the offerings seemed pretty well balanced. I did notice a strong representation from the local groups which was awesome! I also noticed some major vendor players who were missing this year. The freebie swag was greatly lacking, but with this economy, I'm not at all surprised. The demo areas seemed to have an abundance of space, but the acoustics were terrible, and almost everyone was drowned out by the microphone on that side of the hall. I did like the upper deck view from the second floor which allowed you to stand at a window and gaze upon the exhibit hall floor. Pretty neat and a great reminder to those hopping between sessions, that the floor of fun was just waiting below!

5. Yep, There's an App for That! - Ever since RootsTech's introduction of the conference app, folks have been a bit giddy over the convenience something like that provided! For the NGS2012, they opted to use a company that was already in existence instead of creating one from scratch. They chose "Guidebook", which is free to download via smartphones and tablets. Once you have this app downloaded, you just search for the applicable conference that is coming up and save it to your list. While no one considered the RootsTech app to be perfect, we suddenly appreciated it more after using Guidebook. The NGS2012 app was decent and easy to use, but it was not inclusive. For the "my schedule" portion, I was only allowed to add things that were from the official schedule. Sadly, the official schedule did not include any extra events, such as evening events or pre-conference events. I was disappointed in the lack of this feature. Especially since the extra events were listed in the conference literature as NGS organized events. The luncheons were also paid options, but they were included in the app schedules. Even if they didn't want to include these evening events, the option to manually add events in my schedule would have made up for the oversight. The conference experience is fluid. You may know which sessions you want to attend before you get there, but break-out sessions or special, small group events pop up, and the ability to change with the event flow is a must for conference apps. Also, I was not getting any notifications from this app about upcoming events on my schedule. I eventually just switched to using my calendar on the iPhone to keep up with what was coming up.

6. Ribbons/Pins - Confession time - I am a blingy girly girl. I like colorful and shiny things, and I confess to liking the whole ribbon ensemble that goes with conference attendance. Not only is it fun to add more ribbons as you connect with your memberships and groups, but if you watch closely, you can make new friends within the groups you belong to! Plus, I confess to being just plain curious. I watch for the most recurrent ribbons to get a mental snapshot of some of the most popular member groups. There is even a ribbon for "librarians" and this made for a great connection on the professional level that I used more than once during the conference! As a side note, the pins are quite fun to watch as well! I usually buy the official pin for each conference that I attend, but alas, I have not been brave enough to wear any, nor have I really figured out how to wear them. I see all sorts of applications for this fashion perk, but, not yet ready to go out on that limb. Tip: Waiting in line for something? Use someone's ribbon as a conversation starter!
7. Complimentary wi-fi, provided by Family Search! This was such an amazing gift to conference goers! I remember the pain of the Charleston Conference when signals were blocked and even some cell phone services were blocked to the point of having to step outside to make a phone call! This 2012 change was wonderful and served to promote the whole idea of the social experience. Folks were able to tweet and blog to their hearts content without a stutter! I had heard the capacity was a bit small, but the connection issues were not that problematic, and most people were getting online in their turn. Bravo Family Search!

8. Wrap Up - Favorite Memories of NGS2012: Sharing the Barton Papers with my fellow researchers - and the wonderful Pendleton County Historical Society ladies that helped out with my lecture! (I hope to post about this lecture topic as it is a vital resource for Northern Kentucky researchers!) Meeting up with more bloggers - I seriously love this group of people, and am already excited about the next time we get to meet up! Getting to meet the 1940 census queen, Connie Potter (see #2). Having so many local groups as booth neighbors especially the fun Kentucky folks (KHS, KGS, KDLA, AAGGKY)! Meat and potatoes of sessions this year - lots to sink my teeth into, and still absorbing my notes! Having the whole family working the Pastology booth with Chris and I this year - and the moment my Dad was unceremoniously introduced to the "Cloud" - I had to explain it to him after someone asked him about our relation to said "Cloud" - priceless! Having some old friends make the trip and help out with the booth (and wander around buying cupcakes)- Thanks Peggy! Getting a glimpse into where some of the major vendor players are heading in our field! Sharing some of my hometown with the national community!
Toodles from the Queen City!


Anonymous said...

Ritchey and I went to the NGS 2003 conference in Pittsburgh. It was a great event - and he, too, enjoyed all the workshops and classes! Even though Cincinnati was very close this year, we were unable to attend - but we plan to go to another - perhaps in 2014! Great blog!


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