Monday, June 15, 2015

Explaining Jamboree to Non-Genealogists

There were two questions that I received almost every universally from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances after Jamboree.

First, I was asked if I enjoyed myself. I could honestly say that I had a great time.

Second, I was asked if I learned anything new about my family. That still leaves me flummoxed.

Most people don't want a real explanation (I learned that the hard way, back when people would ask how I was doing and I would actually tell them). So I just say that I learned some new strategies for researching.  If I am particularly non-chatty, I add that I learned some new ways to manipulate Excel spreadsheets of DNA data and that ends the conversation dead in its track!

In general, most people seem to think that genealogists either jump onto and click on some shaky leaves, or engage in some mysterious process of diving through musty tomes containing old documents with original records. I think this because that's what they see on television.

One of my frustrations with televised genealogy programs is that they show results and not processes. These shows are great at showing the results and the powerful stories of found ancestors, but give no idea of how we actually do this.

The online database companies have no real desire to see this change. The goal of these companies is the streamline their processes even further, to make them more accessible to mobile users, and to get people clicking and adding to their trees immediately.  This is the climate that increases the chances for errors in online trees.

And on that happy note, I will end this post.