I am including some of the pictures I took during the conference. Click on any of the thumbnail images to see a larger picture.
There are two words that still ring in my ears. I heard these words often at the conference: SNOW and WIKI.
The explanation of the word SNOW is simple: it snowed several times during the conference. On Thursday morning, the lawn in front of my hotel was covered with a fraction of an inch of new snow although the snow did not appear to stick to the paved surfaces. As I walked to the TRAX trolley stop, I noted that many of the passing automobiles had two or three inches of snow on them. Apparently, those drivers live at higher elevations where the snow was heavier and did stick. The weather for the remainder of the conference was cold, windy, and wet. Snow flurries were seen often.
The word "wiki" was stated time and time again. Of course, FamilySearch has had a wiki for some time. Plans announced at the conference include expansion of the present wiki and of the concept of wikis.
Ancestry.com announced two new wikis at the conference: one presently has the entire contents of The Redbook and the other contains The Source. These have previously been available only as (expensive) printed books and have become standard reference volumes for tens of thousands of genealogists. The two books now have been transcribed to online wikis and are available now at no charge at http://www.ancestry.com/wiki
Best of all, these wikis can be updated by anyone (including you). The result will be a better offering than the same information on paper; information can be corrected and/or updated quickly as the new information becomes available. Other wikis have proven that user contributions are valuable. Over time, most wikis continue to evolve and improve to become even better than the original offerings. Ancestry.com is asking the genealogical public to help keep the wikis up-to-date and to expand the information available with new articles.
NOTE: For a definition of wikis, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki.Of course, the primary purpose of any conference is to provide interesting presentations. This year was no exception. Ten simultaneous presentations were offered most all day long for four days. The presenters included many of the best-known genealogists of today. You can see the entire schedule at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/galleries/new-gallery/Registration_brochure.pdf
Most of the presentations were recorded and CDs as well as cassette tapes will be available from JAMB, Inc. The audio CDs were available on-site during the conference and will soon be available from the JAMB, Inc. website at http://www.jamb-inc.com/. I just checked and found that the 2010 conference recordings are not yet listed. The folks at JAMB, Inc. had a long week so I bet they will take a few days off before updating their web site. I'd suggest checking in a week or so.
My favorite place is always the exhibitors' hall and I must say that this year was the best, and busiest, I have ever seen at an NGS conference. All the "regulars" were there plus there were more first-time exhibitors than I have ever seen in one place before.
Best of all, FamilySearch sponsored a separate GENTECH Hall with nearly 100 exhibit booths, all focused on “genealogy and technology.” The GENTECH Hall was separated from the main exhibition hall by a curtain and a balloon-covered entrance. Inside were many exhibitors, most of whom had never exhibited at a national genealogy conference before. Many of them were new companies, formed only in the past year or two, with leading edge products and services. I spent quite a bit of time in the GENTECH Hall and walked away with enough material to keep me writing articles for the next two or three weeks! I will be writing about a new Windows genealogy program that has the best user interface I have ever seen in a genealogy product, about web-based search tools, about CD-ROM disks that will last thousands of years, and much more.
There were many other activities held during the four-day conference. I cannot remember all of them. However, a few of the major events that stick in my mind include:
A "Meet the Archivist" opportunity with the 10th Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero.
A fantastic "Celebration of Family History" presented on Thursday evening by David McCullough, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Orchestra at Temple Square. McCullough is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award. His first book, The Johnstown Flood, was published in 1968; he has since written seven more on topics such as Harry S. Truman, John Adams, and the Brooklyn Bridge. McCullough has also narrated multiple documentaries, as well as the 2003 film Seabiscuit; he also hosted American Experience for twelve years. Two of McCullough's books, Truman and John Adams, have been adapted into a TV film and mini-series, respectively, by HBO. The evening was open to the public and more than 20,000 people attended. No, that is not a typo error: more than twenty thousand people attended the event held at the the LDS Conference Center at Temple Square.
A Genealogy Kids Camp attracted many participants.
Conference attendees had an opportunity to have their family photos and documents scanned at the conference, for free, on professional scanning equipment.
A demonstration area near the GENTECH Hall hosted twenty-minute presentations throughout the conference.
Sixty computer terminals were installed adjacent to the exhibit area to provide a hands-on experience with the products and services being offered at the conference.
While not a part of the official conference, I also provided free wi-fi access to conference attendees in the exhibitors' hall. Using an SSID of "EOGN-free-wi-fi," the wi-fi connection appeared to be busy (and slow) most all day long for four days. The slowness was caused by its popularity. Every time I looked, there were a dozen or so people using the free wi-fi connection. It ran quickly for the first few minutes the exhibitors hall was open each day. However, within an hour or so, the shared connection became busy and slowed to a crawl.
I also gave a presentation on making backups. Unlike most presenters, I did not use PowerPoint slides. I used a radically different presentation program that I rather like. Best of all, it is free. I'll write more about it in the next few days. In the meantime, if you would like to see what I projected on the screen, look at http://www.eogn.com/handouts/backups. You won't hear my voice but you will see the on-screen part of the presentation.Of course, my favorite part of the conference occurred shortly after the conference closed on Saturday afternoon. Forty-five hungry genealogists descended on Z'Tejas Restaurant for the "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter Readers' Dinner." It was noisy. I loved it. I'll write a separate article about the dinner.
I spent ten to fourteen hour days in the conference center and some time relaxing with long-time friends during the evenings. As a result, I wrote very few newsletter articles in the past four days. Fear not as my suitcase is bulging with handouts, demos, and my handwritten notes. I plan to write one article about each new service or product that I saw. Sadly, there were so many that I did not get to see all of them. However, I certainly saw a lot and plan to share my thoughts about each in the next two or three weeks.
I jumped on the airplane this morning to leave Salt Lake City. I was tired, but thoroughly satisfied with the experiences of the previous four days. I hope to share some of those experiences with you in the next two or three weeks.