Friday, 17 April 2015

WDYTYA? Live Day 1 Report

Thanks to a BIFHSGO member, who shall remain anonymous, who emailed me with impressions of day one of the event. My comments in red.
I sat outside the venue, Hall 2, from just before the doors opened at 9:30 a.m., until 9:40, sipping a coffee. There was a queue outside the door which snaked down the hallway, several persons deep. It must have held about 2,000 people behind velvet ropes. There were benches against the wall for any people having mobility issues. Staff went down the line, selling programs for 2 pounds each. When the line began to move into the HaIl, I sat and watched in amazement that within ten minutes, that whole line of people had been processed through reception, the velvet ropes had been removed, and the benches had been stacked and removed. I spoke to one of the staff, who agreed that, yes, they are expert in moving large groups of people with no fuss, no muss. Thumbs up for organization!
Inside, it's almost like being in an airport hall. Huge enormous overhead space, wide aisles, and acres of genealogy and other vendors from the SoG itself and of course, WDYTYA magazine, to a big "Ask The Experts" area where one can have personal time with experts from many fields.
On the ground, there is very good signage by the SoG, which have taken over running WDYTYA (the conference) for the company. The signage is consistent, attractive, and accurate. There were four separate SoG workshop areas. Though they were physically distant from each other, there were no real sound barriers between those areas, which in some cases made it hard to hear what was going on in some locations. One had to know to go first to the workshop counters to ask for tickets to attend special interest workshops. Of course, most were already gone by the time I got there, at about 10:00.
I was interested to see that Rebecca Probert had taken a stand, to sell her books. I introduced myself, telling her that I had heard her speak last year. On Amazon there is a big selection of her stuff. I was especially interested to see one title called Nutcases: Family Law Revision Aid and Study Guide. She really knows her stuff! I'll be attending one of her sessions tomorrow.
There are seven different workshop locations available to everyone. Four for SoG, one each for TNA, The Genealogist, and Family Tree DNA!  That's outstanding! And some people complain about three parallel session at the BIFHSGO conference.
I attended a first session by Dr. Eran Elhaik on DNA  Geographic Population Structures and Ancestry Information Markers, speaking about how it is possible using algorithms developed by himself and his colleagues, to pinpoint 100% of DNA to a continent, 86% to a country, and in some cases, about 76% to particular village districts, but ONLY within the last 1,000 years. This is not available yet commercially; the scientists are hoping to be able to drum up some investment money as a result of this kind of promotion, in order to be able to find a way to do such analyses which are commercially feasible. But it sure sounds good! I'm wondering how this is different from what the companies already provide and if so how that's possible.
Janet Few's first session was packed with people. There were overflows of people standing around the workshop area to hear her. And, as usual, she knocked my socks off. She spoke about making sense of a small group of your family, perhaps just one family in one period of time, and how knowledge of the contexts in which people lived could be developed with the introduction of such diverse info. as
- who was King?
-was there a war on?
-was something significant going on, perhaps such as the 1851 Exhibition?
-what was significant in art, literature, health, and religion?
She mentioned all sorts of ways to find such information, from the Shire Book series, to TNA's currency equivalents site to even suggesting that one search for Estate Agent's records of house sales online, to locate where one's ancestors lived and gain insights from that! I sure never thought of that last one! I notice Janet has posted on her own experience on day one at
In this expanded format with seven sets of possible workshops of interest, well, there is more that's educational and enjoyable here than when I was last at the event in 2012. 

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