Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Live Report

I made it for day three of this three day event at London's Olympia Exhibition Centre. Good overviews of the event have been published by Dick Eastman (here and here) and Chris Paton (here, here and here). I was focused on stands of special interest to me.

There was no line-up when I arrived at about 10:30 am. Entry was fast and easy.

I headed for the Deceasedonline stand which was quite busy. Apparently they make considerable use of OCR technology to give a first pass at indexing printed ot typed burial records, and then do thorough quality control. Handwritten records are indexed in house, no offshore service bureaus employed. I was told to expect the rate at which cemeteries come online to pick up as their service becomes better known and cash strapped local authorities learn there is a revenue stream to be derived as well as a reduction in demand on staff time.

The Robert Blatchford stand was my next stop to pick up a copy of the new, 13th, Edition of the Family and Local History Handbook, hot off the press and not yet officially released, and a copy of the omnibus DVD of editions 1 to 10. I'll likely be saying more about these in a future posting.

The Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture were at WDYTYA Live for the first time, and mentioned they will have digitized land records going online this year.

The next stand I encountered was Pharos Teaching and Tutoring, where Sherry Irvine and Helen Osborn seemed to be flagging a bit after two busy days. I'll be writing more about Sherry and Helen in a forthcoming posting.

Just down the aisle was online genealogy education competitor of Pharos, The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Louise St Denis filled me in on company news, including the acquisition of GenealogyWise, and introduced me to Sheen Tait, newly appointed Director of the Institute’s Scottish Certificate Studies Program.

I attended three lectures at the WDYTYA Theatre. Lisa Louise Cooke spoke on Google for genealogy, Turi King from the University of Leicester on Surnames, DNA and Family History, and Claire Brisson-Banks on Are Your Ancestors Frozen in Time?

I was a bit dissapponted in these sessions which were billed as at a more advanced level. I don't think so.

Lisa had some technology problems which should have not have occurred in an event such as this. Turi gave a good clear presentation, although spent rather too much time on the basics. Claire talked about the problems of preserving your materials in different media but relied too much on reading from her slides, especially toward the end.

The most interesting news from the event was that Findmypast have concluded an agreement with the British Library to digitize and make available online records of the British regime in India, starting with records of the established church (BMBs). The company also has acquired the rights to digitize the British Library collection of voters lists up to well into the 20th century. In addition the company is about six months into the digitization of newspapers from the British Library collection, are now digitizing from microfilm as well as hardcopy, and aim to have the first part of this collection, which will fill in gaps in the existing 3 million page British Library newspaper collection, online around September. Chris Paton has an interview with Debra Chatfield mentioning some other developments here.

I took the opportunity to meet Chris and purchased his new book, Tracing Your Family History on the Internet, published by Pen and Sword. That's another one I'll likely posting a review of in the coming days.

As Dick Eastman reported, this year's event did not attract quite the crowd of previous years which was generally attributed to the economy in the UK.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn't bother paying extra for the conference tickets this year, last year was alright and the cost was not that much more, but I didn't really feel it was worth it. I felt I would benefit more from talking to the exhibitors on the floor.

Just about the only problem I had with the show is that it seems to be aimed too much at the beginner level. The length of the talks doesn't really allow much depth in any case.