Friday, August 21, 2009

Twitter Best Practices for Genealogy Conferences--Some ideas

With the Family History Expo coming up in Sandy, and FGS the week after that, and the EWGS Conference the next week, I thought I might share some ideas about how to ethically and effectively tweet a genealogy conference. In particular I'm talking about tweeting a lecture but I think it also applies to those great conversations we get to have.

Especially since I am going to be in Hawaii at my sister's wedding during FGS, I'm looking forward to hearing about the conference via social media channels. I hope everyone will be generous in letting me know what is going on so I won't feel too left out. (I won't be sobbing in Hawaii, but I *will* miss you guys.)

In the spirit of the twitter movement, I'll keep my ideas to a numbered list. We'll see if I can keep them to 140 characters.

Having been twittered and then twittering a lecture at the last conference there are some things I would do different. I've learned:
  1. It goes without saying that credit should be given. List the lecturer's blog, twitter, facebook, possibly even an email spelled out.
  2. I would argue that you don't need permission any more than a movie or restaurant reviewer. But it would be nice of you to ask.
  3. Distinguish your comments by using "quotes" for what the lecturer said and (parenthesis) for what you are adding.
  4. Use your own words and give a review not a regurgitation. Think live news reporting not videotaping.
  5. Posting later to your blog is nice and extends the discussion. Think newspaper reporting.
  6. Use the hashtag for the conference to be able to participate in the community. Like: #SCGS09, #FHX09, or #BYUgen
  7. University professors are appreciating how the social networking turns a class into a community--participate in the gen conference community
  8. Twitter is a great place to ask questions. It saves the question for later and doesn't interrupt the lecturer's train of thought.
  9. Twitter can be an extension of the question and answer period. A lecturer might answer later or you might get an answer from the community.
  10. A competent lecturer will enjoy continuing the conversation on their blog or on twitter. Check their social networking avenues for responses
  11. But be patient, conferences are very busy for lecturers and they may not get to it--even for a couple of days.
  12. You might even RT or link to a lecturer's responses so that your readers will get the answers along with the questions.
  13. Hopefully you can help twitter change appropriate lectures from show&tell to a conversation-universally accepted as a better teaching method
  14. And finally, try to keep your tap, tap, tapping somewhat quiet. Don't bother the person next to you.
  15. Your ideas?
And some other reading about using twitter.
  • The Twitter Experiment UT Dallas on You Tube. And the professor's analysis. The professor there used it as a discussion tool when the class was too large for everyone to participate in the discussion. Likewise, it could be used at genealogy conferences as an extension of the question and answer period where shy people might be able to speak up, and the lecturer could continue to answer questions later on and into the next day.
  • The Cabinet Office in the UK has posted a Twitter Strategy Paper for government departments in the United Kingdom. Interesting to see how Her Majesty's government thinks they should use twitter. Especially interesting was the tools they are using to track who is talking about them--useful for a lecturer to track what is being said. And interesting what they thought the guide rules should be for appropriate content--no mention of copyright.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm the star of the Genealogy Guys first video cast!

Drew and George (the Genealogy Guys) have posted the video of our interview at SCGS. I'm honored to be the first episode of the Genealogy Guys Videocast. Great to see some of our charts up close and personal. Thanks Guys!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Genealogy Guys Podcast

Drew and George have posted our interview from SCGS. It was originally taken as a video interview where we showed a bunch of our charts, but they have only posted the audio portion. Drew and I had a great talk (as always). Give it a listen.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fits and Starts

You'll probably notice that my blogging comes in fits and starts. Like many other genealogists I am working to find a way to balance the social networking--facebook, twitter, and blogging (and blog reading) with the other things I do in life.

Yesterday I received birthday wishes on Facebook, GenealogyWise, my blog, and even on Twitter. It was so awesome to feel the love from such good friends. But some of them I didn't see right away--and hopefully that's ok. With many many blogs I like to read, lots of people to follow on twitter and facebook, there is tons out there that I don't want to miss. Some days I'm able to read it all, and some days I can't. So the solution I've found is that some days I do and some days I don't. But I can usually catch back up pretty good when I do find the time.

One of the greatest things about social networking is the democratization of publishing. There are some fantastic writers out there that I might never have heard of in the newspaper/book age. But now because of the internet , the cream has really risen to the top. And you can even become great friends with these people. There is some great genealogy information out there in the social networking arena--I learn so much--and I've decided that is definitely worth my time.

There was a great article posted a little while ago about this issue. You'll notice that a bunch of the comments are from some really great bloggers.

I think the key is to keep it all in perspective with each other. Before the networking, before the blogging, even before Generation Maps, I had to set priorities between kids, and volunteer work, and my husband, friends, projects and all sorts of things that demanded my time. You really have plenty of time for anything you want to. Sometimes people even tell me that they don't have time for genealogy--imagine that! It makes me sad for all the great benefits of genealogy that they are missing. Sometimes you just have to sit down and remember what those most important things are to you, and then divy out your time accordingly.

I guess it was twittered best tonight by @ TheGenealogue "I should really tweet more and eat and sleep less..." Well maybe eat less anyway.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday

Look at this awesome cake my sister got for me. If you don't get the joke, you've been missing the best blog on the net--and my guilty pleasure. Take a look at Cake Wrecks--"When professional cakes go horribly wrong." Ahhhh cake. My weakness. Even when it looks like this. Trust me, it still tasted way too good.

And the kicker? My sister asked for it to have "birthday" spelled wrong, and it was supposed to be for "Jan, It, and Matthew." At first, when she picked it up she was all upset. But then--she realized it was a REAL cake wreck. So cool. Thanks Kristen.

And thanks to everyone with all the birthday wishes on facebook. I'm soooo grateful to have so many great friends. Appreciate you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We are going to Spokane--Are you coming too?

Miriam Midkiff posted a vendor spotlight about us on the Eastern Washington Genealogy Society Blog today. We are really looking forward to Spokane. Are you coming too? Be sure to bring your file so we can print it out for you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Genealogy Companies on Twitter.

Just in case you haven't seen it, here is a great list by Tamura Jones on genealogy companies who are listed on twitter. Some of these companies are putting out really helpful stuff.

Genealogy Companies on Twitter

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is tweeting a conference lecture a copyright violation?

An interesting discussion has been going on the last couple of days over on the Association for Professional Genealogists list. Someone asked if tweeting a lecture was a violation of copyright.

As is common on the APG list, a great discussion ensued. As a lecturer who was "tweeted" by an audience member at the conference in question, and an audience member who "tweeted" another lecture, I have three ideas to share on the subject.

My lecture "Basic Research Practices in the age of New FamilySearch" was tweeted by Ancestry Insider and then posted to his blog. My tweets and those of Ancestry Insider concerning Mark Tucker's lecture were posted to my blog. (And I'm sure glad I asked AI if I could repost our tweets together--now *that* would have been copyright infringement :-)

Idea #1)
I believe it was Elizabeth Mills' comment on the APG list that mentioned that it is hard for a lecturer to respond sufficiently to a twitterer's comments in this fast paced world. There were some comments that I would have liked to have made about Ancestry Insider's review of my lecture. My concern is that I can not--in today's incredibly fast world--respond sufficiently. By the time I was even aware that AI had tweeted my lecture, the tweets had already come and gone in most people's readers. Those who have read his blog post about the lecture won't be returning to read the comments. In order to respond effectively, a lecturer would have to spend 24 hours a day tracking what had been said and be able to respond immediately. Likewise, different people read Ancestry Insider's work than read mine. So most likely, those people will not see my response here. And many of them would not know if I commented on twitter even if my response had been immediate because they may follow Ancestry Insider but not me.
I suppose I have more opportunity to respond than I do if a newspaper reporter published their take on my lecture. But what if the issue I wanted to comment on had been a major one?

Idea #2)
AI says in his tweets that the wifi went out in the conference center during the talk and he missed tweeting a good portion of the end of the talk. (It looks to me like he missed about the last 1/2 of the lecture.) In my humble opinion (take that for what it is worth), he missed tweeting some of the main points--A)Part way into the lecture, and especially at the end, I strongly asserted that the problems with sources that I was talking about in New FamilySearch were being addressed by the developers and that I believe the database will become a fantastic resource in the future. B)The whole point of the lecture was that we--the users--are responsible for how useful this database will become in how we deal with sources there. and C)I highly recommended using the certified software to keep track of your sources while we wait for sourcing issues to get better in New FamilySearch. I think those things came across in the lecture. I'm not so sure they did in the tweets. That's ok. I later talked with someone who had to leave after the first 20 minutes. He didn't get the main point either. But he wasn't broadcasting that to the world. And Ancestry Insider certainly wasn't treading on my Intellectual Property if he didn't get the main points. What he did was report his take on my lecture--not record what actually happened. And that would be true of another twitterer if they had missed those points, or misconstrued my points accidentally or intentionally.

I suppose I could get all worried or excited about what people think of me or my lecture based on those tweets. I might worry that future conference organizers may base an opinion about my lecturing skills on a twitter report. But couldn't they do that on word of mouth or a newspaper or blog report? I appreciate that AI liked my lecture. But I shouldn't be crushed if he didn't--I agree with the APG list that tweets should be seen as constructive criticism and used to produce a better lecture. Based on AI's tweets (and our conversations at the conference), there is a slide that slipped through my review process that I need to fix. He caught it and I appreciate that. Anyone who is going to be terribly worried about what everyone thinks should get out of the lecturing business all together and stay away from any kind of public life. People will always have opinions about what you do or say. Those opinions can be expressed alot of different ways, and twitter is just one of them.

Idea #3)
By no means do I feel like my tweets of Mark Tucker's lecture, or even my tweets and Ancestry Insider's together, would violate Mark's intellectual property. If/when he ever gives that lecture again, I would highly recommend that you go. It was a fantastic lecture. I didn't even begin to scratch the surface of his good examples, and great stories, and the readers on twitter certainly missed his fantastic visuals and engaging personality. In tweeting the lecture, I think Ancestry Insider and I were simply trying to spread the wealth--reporting on the fantastic opportunity of being in a good class. But really, you should try it yourself. And as you can see above, I don't feel like the tweets of my class began to scratch the surface of my class either. It was simply an audience member's review of my class. You really should come the next time I give it.

Overall, I'm flattered to have been tweeted by such an illustrious blogger as Ancestry Insider. It gives me a broader reach for a topic I care about. I think that only a person who wasn't there would feel like a tweeted lecture was copyright infringement. If you were there, you would know how much more comprehensive the lectures were. I think tweeters are just trying to share the experience they are having. And if that eventually entices more people to come to these great genealogy conferences or learn more from these great speakers then so much the better.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Genealogy Gems Podcast Interview

I had such a great talk with Lisa Louise Cooke at SCGS I just have to share it with you. Lisa is really easy to talk to and I felt like we had tons to talk about.

We talked about inheriting genealogy and my passion for keeping your genealogy information out where it can inspire you and give you perspective on life.

(Just click on save or open)

My interview (above) is a special excerpt version of the Genealogy Gems Podcast Premium Episode #28 currently available to Genealogy Gems subscribers. You can access the whole episode there for a small fee. She gave me the code "SAVE20" for my readers to be able to get 20% off any membership orders. Well worth it to hear all of Lisa's helps and great guests. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The next conference... come join us.

Don’t Miss Generation Maps in Salt Lake City

Come join the party

Join Generation Maps at the Salt Lake Family History Expo for two days of family history, classes, exhibit halls and much, much more.

2009 Salt Lake Family History Expo
August 28-29, 2009

8 AM – 6 PM
South Towne Exposition Center, Sandy, Utah

Expo Classes - Expo registration required to attend

Register today to attend both days of Expo classes, which include more than 100 family history classes taught by 50 of the nation’s top family history experts and speakers.

I will be teaching:

  • Serendipity and Other Miracles: Why You Need Family History
  • Digitally Enhancing Your Photos

Register today to attend the expo and take advantage of the special pre-registration discount (pre-registration deadline is August 24).

Exhibit Hall – Free to the Public

Visit us at the Generation Maps booth in the Expo’s exhibit hall and experts will be on hand to print your Family History Charts onsite and answer questions about chart printing. Don’t miss special conference discounts on various Generation Maps products such as gift certificates and blank charts.

The Exhibit Hall also features family history vendors from across the world. The Exhibit Hall is free to the public and is open:

  • Friday, August 28: 9 am – 6 pm
  • Saturday, August 29: 9 am – 5:30 pm

Win Door Prizes!

One of the more lively aspects of the Expo is the prize drawings. As a Sponsor of the Salt Lake Family History Expo, Generation Maps has donated the following gifts for the drawings.

Door Prizes Donated by Generation Maps:

Generation Maps Gift Certificate (Value $25.00)

Generation Maps Gift Certificate (Value $25.00)

BYU Genealogy conference

Even though Randy has already beat us to it... (Funny how he can be so on top of it when he wasn't even there. :-) I'm looking forward to when I get to retire and actually do genealogy and write for my blog. But I'm sure I'll never keep up with Randy.)

I have finally unburied at work enough to post a little about the BYU Genealogy conference last week. Fabulous conference. It has a little different layout for the vendors than the rest of the conferences we do. Most of the vendors are out in the hallway and I usually get to sit at the end of the hall with two chairs right next to our table. I should really set up a video camera next time, because I get to sit and visit with all the best people. (Of course then they might not dish as much.) At the BYU conference, it gets really quiet between classes so we have lots of time to talk. I really LOVE that.

I actually tried hard to pop in and out of a few classes this time too. Some of them I got to stay for more than others. I tried to catch some of Karen Clifford's and Peggy Ryskamp's classes on getting accredited. I bought Karen's book, Becoming an Accredited Genealogist. You can get it directly from her at With my Master's in Library Science I haven't worried about getting accredited much, but it is something I'd just like to do for myself. Now if I could just find 2 minutes to rub together to work on it. Don't hold your breath, but I'll let you know when I get serious.

My classes "Certified Genealogy Software that makes New FamilySearch Easier" and "Basic Research Practices in the Age of New FamilySearch" went well. I was nervous about the second one because it was a brand new lecture and usually I like to try them out in a smaller venue a few times before I hit a bigger conference with them. I basically go through the GPS standard and apply it to New FamilySearch. The comparison isn't great right now because they are still working on creating better source citations at FamilySearch, but they *are* working on it and I have full confidence that New FamilySearch will eventually become the resource we all hope it will be. I have a few things I need to tweak on the lecture, but I had tons of people stop at the booth and say they appreciated both lectures. I don't usually get that kind of response so I must have done something right. Or struck some kind of nerve...

But then Mark Tucker gave a lecture on Friday focused just on the GPS standard and hit the ball out of the park. He is a master at graphics and that is such a usefull skill when trying to explain something as complicated as genealogy research practices. He posted his slides at: They are fabulous. I talked to Mark afterward and he said he had followed the book Slideology in creating those great slides. I have a copy of that coming in the mail--can't wait--but then I'll need to redo all my slides I'm sure.

Ancestry Insider and I both tweeted Mark's class: AI gave me permission to post both sets of tweets together. Here they are:

JanetHovorka: Going to actually twitter Mark Tucker's lecture. We'll see what Ancestry Insider and I duplicate.
JanetHovorka: Genealogy Proof Standard--by Mark Tucker at BYU "How many people own evidence explained? How many people understand it? laughs
AncestryInsider: Mark Tucker, "Navigating Research with the Genealogical Proof Standard."
AncestryInsider: His slides are posted on his blog: Go ahead and follow along!
JanetHovorka: Good thing AI is sitting in front of me. Reminding me to use the #byugen
AncestryInsider: Hi, Chart Chick!
JanetHovorka: Professionalism only came to Genealogy in mid 1960s, Citation article by Mills in late 1979 Cite your Sources by Richard Lackey 1980
JanetHovorka: 1997 Evidence by Mills 2000 BCG standards Manual Evidence Explained 2007
AncestryInsider: Implied step in GPS: Define research goals (slides 10-14). Illustrate the process with a case study: Worth Tucker's birth info.
JanetHovorka: The best way to not get lost is to always know where you are GPS proof standard and Geographical Positioning systems
AncestryInsider: Where do I start my research? What record to start with? He teaches boy scouts that knowing where you are prevents getting lost.
JanetHovorka: Define: Statement, Question, Hypothesis. Research plan and research log Start with Known Information
JanetHovorka: Known Information: give source, information found, and Informant/relationship. That is where you start.
JanetHovorka: How do you come up with Research Strategy? Familysearch, research guidance, genealogy software, personal experience, society, FHC
AncestryInsider: GPS: #Genealogical Proof Standard
JanetHovorka: FamilySearch Research guidance is a great way to get started on your research strategy. Follow that plan, find source, update log
AncestryInsider: Covering through slides 22, research plan.
AncestryInsider: Slide 32, picture of his sweetheart (which we all assume is his wife).
JanetHovorka: Do I really need to do anymore? Step 1 of GPS Reasonably exhaustive search in reliable sources that may be pertinent
JanetHovorka: Just because we are tired does that make it an exhaustive search? Oh yeah!
AncestryInsider: GPS Step 1: Reasonably exhaustive search of reliable sources for pertinent info.
JanetHovorka: Source Provenance: Tracking the derivative source back to the original. Why do we care? Helps decide which is the better source?
JanetHovorka: Would you go so far to see a hard copy rather than an electronic version? If I could, yes.
AncestryInsider: Source Provenance: The issue is, what are the better sources? Original source is better than derivative.
JanetHovorka: Great slide graphics for Mark Tucker's lecture at Mark is great at graphics.
AncestryInsider: A derivative is better than the sources derived from it. Independent origin strengthens confidence.
AncestryInsider: Slide 39 introduces another important form. Research Analysis.
JanetHovorka: Every time there is a derivative, there is a chance for a mistake to be made, a chance for something to be lost.
JanetHovorka: Research Analysis document list every source and analyze whether derivative or not
AncestryInsider: GPS Step 2: Collect a complete and accurate citation to each source of information that is used.
JanetHovorka: Legacy, RootsMagic and FamilyTreeMaker all use Mills templates for sources.
JanetHovorka: Step 3 GPS Cite each source- Complete Accurate Citation. Mills. You need both Evidence and Evidence Explained. if only 1, get EE
AncestryInsider: Recommends Mills' _Evidence Explained_. All the latest genealogy software supports templates matching this book.
JanetHovorka: Why citation guidelines? The sources that we consult are different than others. Like a silver set engraved with a wedding date.
AncestryInsider: Aside: EE is necessary because genealogists use a wide range of sources well beyond those in Chicago or Turabian.
JanetHovorka: Mills can help you cite derivatives. Ancestry Insider: Assume the URL is going to change.
JanetHovorka: Different databases cite sources differently, familysearch, ancestry, different than evidence explained. We need to stick to one.
JanetHovorka: Mark envisions a world where an image on the internet is downloaded with a complete and accurate citation. I wish
AncestryInsider: (Thanks @JanetHovorka) Should there be one set of common citation guidelines? (slide 49)
JanetHovorka: Step 3 Analyze, correlate, information, evidence. Primary and Secondary information. Great graphics/slides.
AncestryInsider: Slide 54: Sources can be original, derivative (goes into types of derivatives). Slide 55: Information can be primary or secondary.
JanetHovorka: Sources: Original (image copy, record copy, duplicate original) Derivative (transcript, extract, abstract)
JanetHovorka: Information: (primary, secondary) Evidence: (Direct, indirect, negative)
AncestryInsider: Sometimes derivatives can be treated as an original, such as photographic copies such as micofilm or digitized.
JanetHovorka: Census original, census fed copy, microfilm copy, digital, printout. Derivatives. Skipping back helps. What errors could happen?
JanetHovorka: Can the baby have first hand knowledge of the birth event? :-) Only primary sources are people who were there.
AncestryInsider: Primary information comes from those with first-hand knowledge. Review your sources, information, and evidence for types they are.
JanetHovorka: Spiritual evidence has not been accepted as evidence since 1965. --Ancestry Insider. #byugen :-) I'm remembering to quote you on that.
JanetHovorka: recommending
JanetHovorka: Have to keep track of whether you are talking about sources, information or evidence. Picture of gravestone perfect example.
JanetHovorka: Don't take things as truth because they are carved in stone :-)
JanetHovorka: Death certificates perfect example of primary and secondary information.Does the bereaved ever really remember the right birthdate?
JanetHovorka: Counting up the sources, you can completely count how the sources prove something by what kind of source, information, and evidence
AncestryInsider: GPS Step 4: Resolve any conflicts/contradictions in the information.
AncestryInsider: See the excellent example of slide 79 showing conflicts in our case study of Worth Tucker's birth info.
JanetHovorka: "Bad news guys we have to resolve the consequence" #byugen No "I'm going with that one."
JanetHovorka: List conflicts and record the analysis and resolution
JanetHovorka: Darn I have to quit while we are still resolving conflicts. Have to go back to the booth. I leave the rest to you with a salute AI
AncestryInsider: No conclusion is ever completely final.
marktucker: My presentation went great! Wonderful group of people in the class.

You can look at other tweets on the conference by looking for the hashtags #byugen at Twitter.

These are two fabulous thinkers--especially in the realm of how to use sources. Sources is really THE all important thing in Genealogy. Go check out other work they have done in the area at: and

Looking forward to the next conference...