Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FGS 2010 - The Assessment

I took a few days off from blogging about FGS 2010. I had to catch up on sleep and unpack everything. By the way, finding a fruit cake in your conference bag is disturbing. (Thanks, Dad.) Now it's time to write up some of my thoughts about the conference.

First, it is so nice to be around other geneabloggers and geneatweeps. It's great to talk to people who get social networking and use it. It's also nice to be around so many other genealogists, including many under the age of 80. When you are the youngest member of your local society by at least half, it's nice to see people only a few decades older than you into genealogy.

I liked that the opening session was about fun. It wasn't a rant about the future of genealogy or a lecture on how you should do family history. It was a great way to bring enthusiasm to the conference right from the start.

One of the class tracks made announcements that Twittering was against the conference policy. I don't want to get into whether twittering a session is good or bad, but where was this conference policy? I never saw it in the conference materials. Was this the policy of the entire conference or was it just for this track? Did it have to do with the recording of sessions and recording company's policy? Another lecturer said there was no blogging about the session. This seemed to be her own policy. A defined social media statement from the conference organizers would have told attendees what they could use and how they should use it.

The conference materials should have been more specific in identifying the level of the lectures. A simple "beginner, intermediate or advanced" label would have helped many in choosing which sessions to attend. Although the different tracks help, you have to know about the sponsor of the track to identify the level.

Even within the sponsoring tracks, sessions were put together oddly. I took one session on English wills that was in the ICAPGEN track, but would have been better in the English track. Another was in the BCG skillbuilding track and shouldn't have been. Both lecturers stated that at the beginning of their talks.

I really enjoyed most of the sessions I attended. There is definitely a learning curve when attending conferences. You have to figure out which speakers are must see and which are must miss. When to skip a session and spend time in the exhibit hall. When to schedule a nap into the day. I think the only way to do that is to keep attending conferences.

I also thought that the location of the conference was great. Although it was downtown, it was not in an overly crowded city. Knoxville has a lot of culture and great restaurants within walking distance of the conference center. All the hotels were close enough that you could walk. I also liked that my hotel (Holiday Inn) was literally one block away from the highway. It made it simple to find.

I've pretty much decided that I will be attending FGS 2011 in Springfield, Illinois. I just wish that it was in August again instead of September. One of the main reasons that I chose to go to FGS this year was that it didn't interfere with the school year and I didn't have to take off work to attend. Now of course I need to get back to working so that I can save some money for next year.


  1. Tina,

    GREAT assessment! I never heard the restrictions on Tweeting or Blogging about sessions - perhaps it had to do with that speakers copyright issues? I wish I had read this before filling out the post conference survey, I agree about the beginner to advanced level idea would have helped in choosing sessions. I totally forgot that I RSVP'd to the Geneablogger's meetups - maybe in Illinois!
    Your new-under-80-geneablogger-friend,

  2. It was great seeing you in Knoxville! I'm so glad you could make it.

    There was no official conference policy concerning blogging or Tweeting. Any announcements made were either because of the speaker or the track sponsor. Speaking of track sponsors, a lecture can appear out of place because it is part of that track and must be "grouped together" with the other lectures that are being sponsored.

  3. Thanks for your posts about the conference. Those of us who couldn't be there appreciate the information and enthusiasm!

  4. Great assessment, Tina. I second everything you've said, particularly the need for a conference-wide social media policy and for identifying the levels of the lectures.

    It was great meeting you!

  5. Ah, so that's how the fruitcake got into your bag. I kept wondering if it was one of the door prizes!

    It was great to meet you in Knoxville, and I share your concerns regarding the use of social media at this conference. I'm saving the bulk of my comments for the evaluation, but the fact that we're left with questions, confusion, and mixed messages seem to highlight a need for both education and a clear policy.

  6. Tina, It was so fun following all your blogs about the conference and this one as well. Sure seems you had a great time. You are one dedicated blogger. Thanks.

  7. Tina, Thanks for all the blogs about the conference. It's fun to be able to live vicariously when you can't be there yourself. I agree there is a conference learning curve. I'm hoping to be able to attend lots of conferences and make my way down that learning curve :)