Thursday, July 3, 2008

Jamboree Day 2: The Blogger Summit

Day 2 of the Jamboree began early for me. My daughter woke us up at 5:00 a.m., crying, with a poopy diaper. I’ll bet none of the other geneabloggers can say that.

Probably the session I was most looking forward to was the Blogger Summit, featuring Steve Danko, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Dick Eastman, Leland Meitzler, George G. Morgan, Randy Seaver, and Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak.

To be honest, I really wasn’t sure what to expect at this session. After all, what exactly IS a “Blogger Summit?” I think the concept was unusual, but also very forward-thinking of the SCGS for realizing what a valuable tool blogging is for genealogy, and for recruiting some of the most well-known geneabloggers to serve on the panel.

The discussion was lively and interesting and covered a variety of topics. The panel was moderated by Leland Meitzler who kept things moving for almost 2 hours. Dick Eastman “manned” a laptop computer and projector which displayed the panelists’ blogs as they talked. I had the pleasure of sitting in the audience next to fellow bloggers Craig Manson and Kathryn Doyle, who I had met in person the evening before.

An interesting side note: I was happy to learn that Randy Seaver does indeed have a wife – a lovely lady named Linda, who was kind enough to take a zillion photos after the session. The fact that she was sporting a t-shirt that read “Geneaholic’s Widow” is rather telling, though… but you can draw your own conclusions there. :-)

My Mobile “Incident”

You may already have read that I live-blogged, or “moblogged” (mobile-blogged), the event while it was happening. You can see my actual post here.

And here’s the backstory: As I was listening to the panel of blogging experts, I felt that it was such a great moment that I wanted to share it - right then and there - so I snapped a photo with my cell phone and sent it to my blog. My intent was not to offer a lot of content, but just to say, "Hey, look what's happening here! Isn't this exciting?" I thought so, anyway.

Dick Eastman was commenting on how blogs kept the news so current and showed a post from Craig Manson’s blog written the night before. I chuckled to myself because I knew that my post was even more recent, but I didn’t say anything.

Eventually, I pulled up my blog on my cell phone’s browser and leaned over to show Kathryn Doyle – I thought she would get a giggle out of what I’d done. Instead, she brought up my blog on her cell phone’s browser, and as I was drooling over her beautiful iPhone, I barely noticed that she got up from her seat and walked over to show it to Dick Eastman. The next thing I knew, my blog was live and large on the screen.

It really was a surreal moment as the panel of bloggers turned and looked at themselves. I think it was the only time they were at a loss for words!

For the record, this was not my first time moblogging. This post was sent while on the road to Burbank, and this one was sent on Mother’s Day from my family room couch when I was too lazy tired to turn on my computer. Moblogging is not my preferred method of blogging, as the photo quality from my cell phone isn’t as good as my camera(s), and I don’t have control over how my posts look. Plus, it’s really tedious to type on my cell phone’s tiny keyboard when I’m used to typing 70+ wpm on a regular keyboard, so I tend to keep my mobile posts short. But it works “on the fly,” and I can always go back and pretty up my mobile posts later, if I want to. I’ll write more about moblogging in the future.

Craig Manson wrote a nice post about my mobile post, and a few other bloggers, including Randy Seaver and Dick Eastman, mentioned it in their post-Jamboree articles. Many thanks to these bloggers for promoting my little blog... and Randy, I did indeed experience a “blogalanche!”

What you may not know is that in addition to this mobile post, I also “Tweeted” during the conference. By this I mean that I sent short updates to Twitter via my cell phone. These updates were available to anyone who clicked on my Twitter page or with whom I’m a “Twitter Buddy.” Tweets are slightly easier to do since they are only brief text messages, but it’s not always easy to sum up your thoughts in 140 characters (or less). I’ll post more on Twitter soon, too, as I feel that it’s a valuable resource for a variety of reasons. Oh, and thanks to Tim Agazio for joining the ranks of my Twitter friends!

Final Thoughts on the Summit

I was surprised to see that the room wasn’t filled to capacity, as many of the other sessions had been. My guess is that geneablogging is still something of a niche, despite the fact that there are already hundreds and hundreds of us out there, and many more are joining the ranks every day.

From what I’ve seen as a technology facilitator for the DAR, the “fear factor” still grips many people, as does the feeling of “why on earth would I want to write about my life/family/genealogy so that other people can READ IT?” Well, I’ll tell you why: genealogy is a collaborative effort, and if you don’t put yours out there, no one will ever see it and want to collaborate with you. The answer to who great-great-great-grandpa Dunn’s parents were might be out there, but you’ll never know!

Lastly, it was interesting to hear the perspectives of the various bloggers, especially those who had been at it for a long time. Many questions were asked and answered, and although I really didn’t learn anything new, I did come away with a valuable piece of advice, originally given to Schelly Talalay Dardashti by George G. Morgan, shortly after she first began her blog: “Don’t let it take over your life.”

I’ll confess: blogging is addictive.

Be warned.

Some of the bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting at the Summit:
Back L to R: Leland Meitzler, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Randy Seaver, Craig Manson, Me.
Front L to R: Kathryn Doyle, Dick Eastman, George G. Morgan, Steve Danko.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

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Kathryn Doyle said...

Thanks for giving the back story on your moblog moment. Talk about audience participation! Have a great trip to Washington DC.

Randy Seaver said...

There's something to be said for collecting your thoughts and writing about events several days later. Nice post!

I checked the Twitter page too - interestingl ife you have...and it IS a life. That kid will be your legacy to the world - but the journey is hard sometimes, and genealogy sometimes has to take a back seat to life. You seem to juggle things pretty well!

I find updating my Facebook note every day is difficult to remember to do - priority is not that high, I guess. That is similar to Twitter only different, I guess.

Cheers -- Randy (3.5 YO Lolo has been here since Monday)

Thomas MacEntee said...

Great commentary and I agree with Schelly (and always find her posts insightful BTW) - all things in moderation.

But I have to confess, that through some dark times in the past few months, blogging and my genea-blogging buddies have helped me keep an even keel in life. So I guess it is ok for your blog to be a refuge at times.