Monday, August 23, 2010

Reflections on #FGS10

I am finally back home in Chicago and recovering from a long but fun and productive week in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference. As I sort through photos to be posted on blogs, a stack of business cards to enter into my contacts, thank you emails to be sent, etc., I have these thoughts about my experience last week:
  • There were over 1,000 attendees with an unanticipated number of first time attendees - to the point that there were not enough First Time Attendees ribbons to go around!
  • Yes, I did get more ribbons.  Thanks go out to Tonya my account manager at pcnametag! I will be displaying them here soon!
  • Some felt that the numbers were "down" over previous FGS conferences.  I can't speak for past conferences since this was my first FGS conference, but keep in mind that the Knoxville Convention Center holds 20,000 people - it is absolutely enormous!
  • The people in Knoxville are amazing - from the minute my limo met me at the airport through to the time I left, everyone was helpful, polite and told me they were glad to see me and all the genealogists in Knoxville.  The Market Square district had many good restaurants and places to grab an adult beverage.
  • I love meeting up with other genealogists, especially my old friends and new bloggers! Amy Coffin and Missy Corely provided lots of laughs and good conversation about the genealogy industry.  Amy and I almost got in trouble at Preservation Pub no thanks to a Belgian beer called Delerium Tremens with 8.5% alcohol content.  The pink elephants on the bottle should have served as a warning.
  • It was hot in Knoxville.  Hotter than two June brides.
  • I attended the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 and was impressed by the event, the content of the seminars and the chance to network with colleagues. I spoke at the roundtable later that evening and will be describing the event over at my other site, High-Definition Genealogy.
  • Most of my time at the FGS event was spent helping out at the ISGS booth with my fellow board members from the Illinois State Genealogical Society. We had a good time and helped spread the word about next year's conference.
  • I had the longest "conference beard" - aka group of ribbons - at the conference.
  • On Wednesday evening, I had dinner with 17 other members of various ProGen study groups. A great time and got to meet some interesting people.
  • I kept telling myself, "It's not the heat, it's the humanity."
  • There were opportunities to meet with vendors: the Family Search breakfast on Thursday, another meeting as an ISGS board member with Family Search as well as an ISGS breakfast with Ancestry on Friday.  Which reminds me, I need to update my Disclosure Statement page.
  • Many folks were surprised at the quality of the education sessions and the topics covered. For those who thought that FGS was just about genealogical societies you should know that this is a perfect genealogy conference for individuals, especially intermediate genealogists.
  • I don't do well with mornings.  Someone asked that I meet for breakfast at 6:45 am and I actually laughed.  And that was 6:45 am Eastern time.  Silly rabbit.
  • I was disappointed that several sessions would not allow live blogging or Twitter.  Their loss.  I will be discussing this and other industry issues over at GeneaBloggers as part of our Open Thread Thursday discussions.
Also, in case you haven't already heard, I have been named the National Publicity Chair for #FGS11 which will be held in Springfield, Illinois from September 7-10, 2011 and is co-hosted by the Illinois State Genealogical Society. Visit the FGS2011 Facebook page and click "Like" to receive the latest news on the event.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Greta Koehl said...

It was awesome to finally meet you! BTW, I wore my GeneaBlogger beads all the way home and they are now hanging over my desk.

Jennifer said...

Hi, Thomas! It was great meeting you at the conference. I am already looking forward to my next conference. I was also disappointed about the no live blogging and twittering rules. Some people have taken this to mean that they can't even mention the name of the session and the name of the presenter on their blogs. I would assume that a mention of the session topic and the name of the presenter is acceptable, as well as a brief one or two sentence overview of something the attendee learned during the session. What exactly was the intention of the no blogging and no twittering rule?

Thomas MacEntee said...

Good question Jennifer - I intend to address this soon in a post over at GeneaBloggers. I think it will be a good Open Thread Thursday discussion.

I think it is out of ignorance that some conference managers and speakers dismiss social media outright. What bugs me is this: have they done a thorough investigation as to its benefits and drawbacks, much the same way they would investigate a source for their genealogy research? Or are they being persuaded by negative media about Twitter and Facebook?