Since it is two weeks before Christmas and ten days before Hanukkah and I am still working at my paying job I have decided to take the easy way out and post something that does not require research or the manipulation of many photos in the cranky WordPress interface.  So, I add my voice to the books at RootsTech controversy.

I wasn’t at RootsTech last year and I won’t be there this year.  I have never been an official blogger for anything and I have no expectations of ever being one.  I doubt the people at RootsTech care at all about what I think. Yet I still manage to have an opinion or two.

No books.  Are you kidding me?  This reminds me of last year’s nonsense after RootsTech.  The alleged divide between old and young genealogists, the who gets to participate controversy, and endless stuff about sourcing.

Now it seems that the folks at RootsTech have decided that books don’t fit the young, hip image they wish to project.  Fine, do what you want, but it seems like a stupid business decision to me.  The majority of genealogists and most RootsTech attendees are still an older demographic.  We want to keep up with things techie, save forests by going paperless, and certainly have access to printed material online; but we love real, physical books too.

The book vendors still bring things that can’t be found online.  They also bring knowledge of what else is out there and where to find it.  I find them to be consistently the most interesting vendors to talk with at a meeting.

I haven’t seen RootsTech’s explanation for banning books, so perhaps it is a bit unfair to berate them about it.  Does anyone know the rationale behind this decision? Is their vendor space that limited?  Surely you could squeeze a little space for books in somewhere. I really hope this is not a “paper is dead” movement.  It won’t work because people rarely buy into stupid ideas for very long.


Credit for the photo:

I wasn’t at Rootstech. I did follow Curt Witcher’s inspiring and entertaining talk. I’ve been reading some of the blogs of those who attended. So for anyone who’s still paying attention here are my thoughts.

Everyone who attended the conference and everyone who reads blogs, tweets or searches online is pretty serious about genealogy. Most of what we do is preaching to the choir. Now we talk about letting the new kids in; I don’t feel this is much of a problem

Yes, in the days before readily available widely used Internet sources getting in meant going to an archive or a genealogical society. This is intimidating for many of us because it carries the wonderful and, in my case, often used option of making a fool out of yourself. The first time I went to the NARA facility in New York I tried holding the microfilm up to the light to read it. The staff there was so wonderful and helpful I was soon OH Wowing like crazy and having a great time. The second time I went I was helping other people. And so it goes.

I do not know anyone including the newest genealogist to the oldest who does not use the internet for genealogy. Every person who started out going to NARA for census data now revels in pulling it up on the Internet. Believe me those of us who schlepped an hour and a half on the train each way only to return home saying, “I wish I had…” are more thrilled than anyone who had that information at his typing, texting, tweeting fingertips from the beginning.

I do not see the dichotomy between old folks and young folks. The dichotomy I see is between the pleasant and helpful and the unpleasant and unhelpful. In my experience about 95% of genealogists are helpful to a fault. I’ve heard endless talk about the comma people. I have never met one of these people. Yes, there are a few of them out there insisting that every source be perfect. Almost every genealogist agrees on the need for sourcing. Kerry Scott wrote recently about the cult of sourcing. Honestly, I think the cult has very few members. If Elizabeth Shown Mills doesn’t belong, who does?

If you are a devout techie and are worried about encouraging newbies and old folks to appreciate and use that technology, BE NICE.

When Pat and I first ventured into blogging we got just about everything wrong. There’s that potential for making a fool out of yourself. We were trying this not so new technology, but we didn’t know what the H… we were doing. We got slammed a bit for not linking to other people’s posts and not accepting comments. Well, we didn’t know the etiquette and we didn’t know how to turn the comments on. Happily,  Granny Pam an others came along and pointed us in the right direction and we hardly ever piss anyone off anymore. You find the picky and the criticizing in the facebook and tweeting worlds just like you do anywhere else. Fortunately, they are a minority.

Tech, archives, societies, whatever, if you are kind and helpful people want to be there.

As for myself, I am now learning about meta data and georeferencing. Give me a little while and I’ll be glad to help you with it.