12 May 2020

The Road Less Travelled

Dick Eastman posted an opinion piece on his blog on Monday — Is This the End of Genealogy Conferences as We Have Known Them? It's timely, but I'm left wondering what he really thinks.

He writes in response to a reader query:
“Every time I look at a genealogy website these days I see lists of events which are cancelled or postponed. Some societies have adjusted to this by offering webinars or remote sessions via Zoom. We are left wondering if we will ever meet in groups, or go to our local Family History Center again. Or is this the end of genealogy as we have known it?”
Dick's opinion is "I believe the opposite is true. I believe we are seeing the new opportunities being offered to many more genealogists, opportunities we never had before."

But then Dick proceeds to list the problems with large conferences, especially costs of travel, not even mentioning the contribution of aircraft emissions to climate change. He lists the advantages of online virtual conferences and writes "I hope (they) will become more and more popular in the future, even after the present pandemic fades away."

It's not clear if Dick expects large conferences to return in the numbers and popularity of late or what the new opportunities are except for events online.

For many organizations, genealogical and family history societies included, conferences have been significant contributors to the revenue side of the balance sheet. Now with so much more easily and relatively inexpensively available online how many such presentations will we want to attend? Will societies be able to compete with familytreewebinars which has a 10-year headstart and for $50US a year offers access to more than a thousand archived presentations with new ones added every week and free to view for a few days?

The glue that keeps organizations together is the social side. Event attendees, and organizers, get to be friends. Will the glue hold if social distancing continues to have to be practiced?  Let's hope it is relaxed, if and only when risk assessors judge it prudent. If there's a second wave that could be many months.

What other new opportunities does Dick imagine?

With the pandemic, we are travelling down a road less travelled. What will the new journey entail?


Rick Roberts, GlobalGenealogy.com said...

There is a definitely a place for webinars, youtube videos and the like. In my case there is added value in that I can replay a video until I understand all of the content, or at least the portion of content that is helpful to my research.

What I value most from in-person genealogy conferences is the social side of them, gatherings of hundreds of like-minded people from all walks of life who share a passion for their common interest. I learn as much or more from conversations with other attendees and speakers during non-lecture time and social events, who have solved a similar problem to one I'm having, or sourced a resource that I was unaware of. Over the years this has led to many long and fast friendships that I value highly.

I hope that as Covid19 becomes an distant memory, we can congregate once again... renew those friendships, and share our roadblocks and victories with people who care about the same things.

reflective thoughts by barbara said...

I have enjoyed attending virtual meetings with other branches of OGS. They were meetings too far from home. So if online continues great. However, I like live meetings where I talk with live people. The social aspect is so vital. Can both happen? Probably. I think once we can come out of our bubbles there will be a relief of having a choice.