Monday, June 11, 2012

NGS 2012: What I learned from Curt Witcher

Curt B. Witcher was the speaker at a luncheon sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists on May 9, 2012    He is the manager of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I've heard him speak a couple of times now and have enjoyed both presentations.  He spoke at the luncheon about the 21sters (twenty-firsters) - the people who have come to genealogy through technology.  This group of people are the so-called "next generation of genealogists".  I heard D. Joshua Taylor speak about this at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in 2011.  It's a hot topic.

As genealogy societies recruit new members or educate the general public about genealogy, the audience they hope to engage will be generally more tech-savvy and want to approach family history research using technology.  Small wonder what with television trying to capture this growing market with commercial advertising by and the series Who Do You Think You Are and Finding Your Roots on commercial  and public television, respectively. 

The key to be mindful of is that the new generation of genealogists is not necessarily younger people.  They also may seek learning opportunities using technology rather than in meeting facilities.

Curt provided several examples about how the learning environment has changed such as EdX, TED-Ed, Khan Academy and the more familiar YouTube, webinar and apps.  

"Why should a genealogy society pay attention to any of this?" was the question he said that is often asked.  Curt's reply was to ask yourself "Why not do it?"  He posed another question, "Who do you want to engage?"  His point was to sustain genealogy itself or a genealogy society, there's a need to use more and different ways of reaching people.

I think Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society has begun engaging its existing members with technology through its new website, this Blog and the Facebook page.  Some efforts like putting the newsletter online were born out of financial necessity due the cost of mailings.  Root Cellar's electronic presence has also created increased visibility for our organization both locally and nationally, and thus engaged some 21sters.  Will they become members?  Maybe.  Will they grow their interest in genealogy? Probably - because of technology and its many ways to keep them engaged. Now, about that YouTube Channel for Root Cellar...

posted by and opinions of Denise Hibsch Richmond

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love getting your comments!