As I was packing for the trip home after attending a recent genealogy conference in St. George, Utah, I was reminded of one thing: the syllabus is published on a CD-ROM instead of on paper. What a great idea!
I’m told that the BYU Technology conference does the same thing: publish the syllabus on CD-ROM instead of paper. Most other conferences I know of still publish on paper, an expensive and bulky process. That’s not too mention “old fashioned.” Dare I say “obsolete?”
Besides genealogy events, I frequently attend various conferences and conventions dedicated to various other topics: ham radio operators, private pilots, VOIP telephony, and more. All of them switched their syllabi to CD-ROM years ago. Nobody publishes on paper these days – except for a number of genealogy conferences.
Publishing on paper is expensive, and that expense goes straight to the bottom line: the attendees pay for it, whether they want it on paper or not. Attendance costs are already very expensive. Do we really want another twenty dollars or so tacked on for something we do not want or need?
The four-day national conferences often produce multi-volume publications of hundreds of pages. After one recent conference, I thought I might need to purchase an additional suitcase just for the four-volume syllabus! Instead, I stuffed it into the hotel room’s wastebasket and left it behind. I must admit that I usually leave all conference syllabi in hotel wastebaskets.
Assuming that I do elect to bring the syllabus home, I am then faced with the problem of storage. I don't know what your personal library is like, but the bookshelves I have are already overcrowded with genealogy books, software, family pictures, and a variety of other “valuables.” I don't have room for several hundred more pages!
Contrast this with CD-ROM publishing: the organizer will save thousands of dollars in printing costs. I would hope that most of the savings would be passed on directly to the paying attendees in the form of lower admission costs.
Packing after the conference is easier since a tiny CD-ROM disk fits into the suitcase or carry-on luggage far better than printed books. Next, when I get home, I am far more likely to review the material on CD-ROM than on a book that I probably have to store in a cardboard box in the basement. Most CD-ROM disks have search capabilities that are much more accurate and faster to use than searching through several hundred pages of printed material. Cheaper and more useful: that's a powerful combination!
Here’s a suggestion to conference organizers: At the next conference, please “go green.” Publish the syllabus on CD-ROM and then pass on part of the savings to attendees in the form of lower admission fees. If anyone insists they want the syllabus on paper, send the print job out to Kinko’s or another printing service the night before the conference opens, and then charge that attendee for the printing costs. The St. George conference already does this and that practice has been very successful. Those of us who do not want it on paper should not be charged for it!
The hotel’s housekeeping staff will thank you, too.