What a great chat! I love this community so much. It is so great to be able to discuss things over social media and have input from so many directions. Thank you so much for all the input I've received on my Open Letter to the Genealogy Community post over the weekend. I think this has been a good discussion to have. I'm so thrilled to have so many friends who are as eager as I am to advance the world of genealogy.
I'd like now to take it to another step. I eagerly read the comments everyone had (and thank you for those of you who shared it further) and I was happy to see Jane Schwendinger and Thomas MacEntee encourage the conversation in a positive direction. But I still saw alot of "they" this and "they" that and "they" should. I would like to see some more "I will". It is amusing to me that we all think of life that way--me included--but it is time to look inward. So I'd like to challenge you all to help me make a list of what we are going to do to embrace the new influx of family historians.
1) I'm going to take some kind of interactive game or activity to every future conference booth that we do. (If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.) I think we can shake up the conference scene and make it more accessible. And I think that will make it more fun for all of us who are regulars there too.
3) I'm going to keep a positive attitude. I'm going to focus on how awesome it is that newcomers are interested, and try to brush off the quirky, strange, copyright naive, thoughtless, and sometimes even ignorant and rude things they do. I'm going to try to stay away from my occasional "holier than thou" impulses and try not to talk down to anyone. I'm going to be respectful and try to always be helpful and patient, no matter what. Just because they don't know the nuances of family history doesn't mean that they aren't a brain surgeon in some other area of life.
I have faith. When I went to the Who Do You Think You Are conference in London, I had a chance to talk to several of the vendors there. They had crowds of 22,000 that had recently dwindled some to 20,000 and then to about 17,000. But the vendors there said that every year the audience came back as much better genealogists and more knowledgeable than before. Just think if we could turn all 22,000 people at this recent RootsTech conference into full-fledged NGSQ-worthy genealogists. But even if some of them don't come along as fast or in the way we want them to, we can embrace them. As Valerie Elkins recently said, "The genealogy tent is big enough to accommodate and welcome all, no matter what drew you inside, or when." (Facebook post 2/23/2015: 10:38 am https://www.facebook.com/valerie.brown.elkins)
That's what I'm shooting for. What are you going to do?