Monday, November 22, 2010

Gasbagging about Genealogy

In my former life I gave many talks at conferences and seminars and spent quite a deal of time helping teachers come to grips with new technologies and how to apply them to their teaching situations. This week I came out of the closet to give a couple of talks about genealogy and web2.0 tools. As I like teaching and communicating with people with shared interests I enjoyed these experiences.

On Thursday evening at Mosman Library I spoke for 1 1/2 hours on 21st century genealogy and family. I felt at home in a public library as I spent my early working life as a Librarian at Waverley and Randwick Libraries in Sydney. In this presentation I was able to demonstrate how I use a range of Web2.0 tools for my interest area of genealogy, how they can be used to communicate with current family members and be applied to other areas of interest whether it be orchid growing or collecting hats. As no-one went to sleep or appeared to play with their blackberries during the talk I assume that I maintained their interest (or maybe people in Mosman are very polite). Thanks to organiser Bernard De Broglio and the warm and responsive audience at Mosman. Bernard organises a wonderful series of free talks at Mosman - it is worth following the library on twitter and their blog to get news of these events.

I wasn't quite so relaxed for my second gig at The History and Genealogy Roadshow on Saturday. I had a technical hiccup as I was setting up but was rescued by Carole Riley and was able to start on time. I did go prepared with two computers and had my presentation on them, a thumb drive and on the internet just in case.  I had tested the setup the previous day but....

When I scanned the faces in the room I became a little more flummoxed as I had some of Genealogy's glitterati watching me. There was Carole Riley, Rosemary Kopittke, Shauna Hicks, Heather Garnsey from SAG and US author and visiting guest speaker, Dan Lynch plus a room full of people like you and me. A hand mike was thrust into my hand - I used this until I needed two hands to hold artefacts and type during my live demonstrations. I can't remember when I last had to use a hand mike - I am used to a lapel mike which gives one complete freedom or a mike fixed to a lectern so at least I can jump about, hold up papers and type from behind the lectern. In classes with hearing impaired students I wore a headset. Talking without gesticulating or visual aids is for me a very difficult task.

The focus of my talk The 21st Century Genealogist was that to be the most effective researcher one can be one needs to use a combination of traditional methods and tools with the new tools provided by modern technology. I compared the activities of the 19th and 20th century genealogist with those of the 21st century genealogist. I then illustrated this with a story of how I used traditional and modern resources to find a clock made by my husband's 3xgreat-grandfather. I then launched into some live demonstrations of useful Web2.0 tools. As time was at a premium in this 45 min presentation I paid very quick visits to a few items the list.

Some time during the talk I ditched the microphone after asking the audience if they could hear me. I was mortified when later I discovered that an audience member had a hearing impairment and missed a lot of my talk. I sought this person out and apologised during the lunch break.

This larger audience was more passive than the Mosman mob but from comments I received later from audience members I think I hit the mark with many of them. The best feedback I got was from another white-haired person who said  it was good to have a talk by an ordinary person and  by someone whose job is not genealogy.

I thank Alan Phillips from UnlockthePast for giving me an opportunity to share my experiences with the Roadshow attendees.

1 comment:

Carole Riley said...

I thank Alan Phillips for giving you the opportuntiy as well, it was great to see a different perspective!

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