Monday, 17 September 2012

BIFHSGO conference in retrospect

The annual conference of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa goes from strength to strength. With it being Scotland's turn to be the theme, and as I have yet to find my Scottish roots, I spent most of the time in the alternate session where one was offered. 
Things got off to a good start for me with a pre-conference 3-hour workshop on Tablets, Netbooks, e-Readers and Apps for Genealogy given by Tony Bandy. I'd known Tony for his articles in Internet Genealogy and was delighted to find he is an expert trainer, with a library background, sensitive to the needs of people with various learning styles. His PowerPoint slides were exemplary in their simplicity.  Bringing a collection of devices to the workshop gave the opportunity to try the various equipment. While Tony was keen on the Google Nexus he acknowledged that other equipment strong points might weigh more heavily for one's own application.
Tony also gave conference talks on Dropbox, Evernote and Online Digital Notes, a conference highlight for me, and one on Online Books: are these really good resources, I only caught the tail end but did get the handouts.  Plenty to follow up on after the conference in the handouts.

Vic Suthren's talk on the War of 1812 as the opening Don Whiteside Memorial Lecture kept people's attention for his clear recounting of the events of 1812-1814.

I'd interviewed him but not heard Chris Paton speak before, and only managed to catch one and a bit of his four talks. Chris comes with a formidable reputation as a speaker and lived up to every inch of it. No wonder he ranked so high in the Genealogy Rock Star survey earlier in the year.

Jane Buck came from Houston, her airline giving the organizers concern as a scheduled flight was cancelled so she arrived barely an hour before her first genetic genealogy talk. Jane's were both entertaining presentations with excellent slides.

On Sunday morning I had the opportunity to chair two sessions. Lucille Campey always provides content rich presentations - for this session based on her new book on English immigration to Quebec and Ontario which I'd reviewed here.

The second presentation was by Ed Zapletal, editor and publisher of Moorshead Magazines. He and colleague Rick Cree have been regulars at the conference marketplace, as well as all major North American genealogical conferences, but this was his first presentation. Writing for Publication: Pitching Your Family History Story to Editors was a topic Ed could speak to with years of authority. It showed and was appreciated by those attending. Initial nervousness soon passed and by the end he seemed to enjoy the experience and even be contemplating other talks he might give.

I also had time to conduct a few interviews with marketplace exhibitors, as did BIFHSGO Director of Research and Projects Brian Glenn. I'll link to those as they become available.

I found the conference enjoyable from start to finish. Kudos to conference co-chairs Brian Watson and Ken McKinlay; thanks to the volunteers and speakers. I look forward to next year's 19th annual conference.


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