Tag Archives: genealogy standards

Great Expectations

Early this year, several genealogy bloggers picked up A Conference Manifesto by Librarian of Fortune Mary Ellen Bates, about how conferences should change, because the traditional conference is no longer serving its purpose; “We are no longer willing to shuffle zombie-like from one conference session to the next, passively listening to speakers talk about what they know.”.

When we started Gaenovium, we did not set out to follow tried-and-true formats, nor to do everything differently. We set out to create a conference we might enjoy ourselves.

getting together

When we started Gaenovium, we did not set out to follow tried-and-true formats, nor to do everything differently. We set out to create a conference we might enjoy ourselves.
We set out to create a genealogy-related conference in Europe, without forgetting Americans; we’re organising it in the one European city Americans hope to trace their ancestry too. We set out to have a minimal conference fee – our € 45 conference fee includes coffee, lunch, tea, and diner.
We deliberately set out to create a real conference instead of a virtual one. A conference for genealogy technologists is not going to be big, it is going to be small, but small is good, small is intimate.
We set out to create conference for genealogy technologists, not only so we finally get to enjoy some in-depth genealogy technology presentations, but to get genealogy technologists from different companies and countries together and talking with each other.

interaction

We had discussion about the desired length of presentations. We are aware that listener attention tends to decrease after 45 minutes, but we do not want presentations to become superficial because of some artificial maximum. We accepted that an in-depth presentation may require more time, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll allow our speakers to be talking heads lecturing to an anonymous crowd, and they certainly will not be able to walk away from the podium saying there is no time for questions any more.

There no podium to walk away from, and the Gaenovium audience may well be a more challenging audience than the speakers ever experienced before; a highly educated and knowledgeable audience of genealogy technologists, that is not going to passively absorb everything, but will ask questions and challenge assumptions.
That audience will not be an easily ignored large crowd in distant darkness, but a small and visible group, right in front of the speaker.
That audience is sure to have questions, and we did our bit to make sure the speakers will have time to answer those questions; first we asked for an estimated duration of their presentation, including question & answer time, and then we generously added another fifteen minutes to their time slot anyway.
Perhaps that will result in a bit more time between presentations, but that’s okay; it gives attendees more time to corner the speaker or each other for one-on-one discussions. We designed Gaenovium to be a great event for speakers who love interacting with their audience; organisers, speakers and attendees share the same small building for a day, and then have dinner together afterwards.

video

We’ve seen some blog posts wondering about video recording and live streaming, we’ve even seen some comments that practically demanded that we live-stream the panel discussion. Other than some blog posts may have led you to believe, we never stated that we’re not going to do video. We never stated that we are going to do video either.
We set out a to create a real conference, for people to meet up and interact, so creating a video was never high on our priority list. We did not organise sessions to watch via a live stream, we organised a conference to participate in.

Please expect nothing, and perhaps we’ll surprise you. However, we can state, with great confidence and conviction, that we’ll not even be trying to do a live stream without a wired Internet connection.

social media

The lack of a live stream does not preclude you from experiencing the conference vicariously. We created a social media policy to match the nature of the event. The Gaenovium social media policy does not award the euphemism official blogger to anyone, but deliberately provide all attendees equal access to the conference speakers and Wi-Fi, and expect a modest amount of live blogging and tweeting, hashtag #gaenovium.

great expectations

When we announced Gaenovium, we expected praise, complaints, complaints and questions. We expected many things, we just didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

We hope that the presentations and discussions at Gaenovium 2014 will lead to vendor collaboration and cooperation, and improvements in genealogy software. In the short term that might mean say a GEDCOM fix here and a new direct import feature there.

At least one blog post about Gaenovium suggested we’ll all enjoy a GEDCOM replacement soon after Gaenovium 2014. Here’s a reality check: FHISO hopes to create a new standard over the course of several years.
We are happy if the Current & Future Genealogical Exchange Standards panellists put forth some interesting arguments and generate passionate discussion. We’d welcome a FHISO official on the panel, and promise not be disappointed if they fail to solve all current problems and draft a solution in just one hour.
Our expectations are slightly more realistic; we’ll allow them a bit more time, and won’t bother them for the finished product until after diner.