Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Old dogs can learn new tricks.

I'm looking forward to seeing old friends at the Indiana Genealogical Society's annual conference in Ft. Wayne. Looking forward to NGS also, and Midwestern Roots. Why? There is always something to learn, someone new to meet, someone with whom to reconnect. Believe me, in genealogy, if you snooze, you lose. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt (well, no, but I did get 2 cool T-shirts at FGS last year — one from FamilySearch, and one from Fold3).

Where was I? Oh yes - snoozing/losing. Next week I'm giving a class at my home society on using directories and using newspapers. Both are talks I've done before, locally and nationally. The last time was back in 2006. Then life happened and — oops! Genealogy happened, too. It's not that my old handouts were obsolete as much as they needed to be revamped to add SO much new information. This is not your grandmother's genealogy, I've heard it said. It's true. Just a few years off the grid, and I felt lost.

I stuck a toe back in the water in — 2008, I think it was, when Megan Smolenyak started her Unclaimed Persons group on Facebook. Whoooaa! What the heck is social media, and how did I get here? FB was definitely something I didn't think I could learn.

Blogging? Heck, I didn't even write in my journal consistently. But while I was gone, some new faces appeared on the scene. Thomas MacEntee was one of them, he of the "learn to create a blog in 5 minutes" fame. He created GeneaBloggers, a group of people who looked as though they were having a blast. I felt like a kid looking through the window of the candy store.

Lots of other Young Turks came to town when I wasn't looking. People like Josh Taylor, who I had the pleasure of working with (along with Thomas, Julie Cahill Tarr, Paula Stuart Warren, Pat Oxley, Susie Pope, David Kent Coy and all the rest of the wonderfully talented FGS 2011 Conference Committee).  People like Elyse Doerflinger, whom I met briefly at my first Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in 2011. People like Nick Gombash, creator of Hungary Exchange (whom I've not yet met, even though we're in the same neck of the woods). People like Tina Lyons, vice president of the Indiana Genealogical Society and author of the blog Gen Wish List. As editor of the IGS Newsletter, I've had the pleasure of seeing Tina bring many new ideas to the table. There are others, but it's late and I can't think of them all right now.

I'm still involved with Unclaimed Persons, but now we do our work in a forum. I'm lucky to know the giving, talented people that serve as directors and case administrators, bringing closure to families whose loved ones have passed. Blogging? It took me a few years to get a round tuit (uh, remember the title of this blog?), but I wanted to get in on that fun. And it is fun, even though I don't blog consistently. Facebook? I'm on most days of the week. Twitter? I have an account but I don't tweet— I can't find time! Pinterest? Ditto.

So am I saying that I'm a dinosaur; that there is no longer room in genealogy for someone like me? Not at all. What I am saying is that I can learn from the Young Turks; that I won't just walk away from genealogy because there are new tools/toys to play with. Conferences and webinars and social media and chats help me get up to speed. 

Genealogy will continue, whether I (or you) am involved or not. 
And you know what? It's in good hands.

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