Genealogical Society Webmasters - Rootstech 2012 Unconference

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This page has been created to support the discussion about a proposed RootsTech 2012 Un-Conference session (to be scheduled when the conference opens).

This is a Wiki page... if you can read it you can change it! Please share your thoughts and ideas here and at the meeting!

The focus of this session will be on facilitating an on-going environment that can be utilized by those responsible for creating and maintaining the on-line presence (web sites, Blogs, Wiki's, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, etc) for local genealogical societies. The desired outcome is to define a path forward and to begin a virtual discussion.


Societies that want to establish an online presence are faced with a dilemma: where to find someone with the necessary skill set to create their web site. If such a person can be found, societies are completely dependant on architecture and design decisions made for them by their webmaster with little or no ability to judge the soundness of the choices. Only later does it become obvious that maintaining a web site is more of a challenge than creating one.

There should be a way that societies can work together to share information and resources:

  • While there are many ways to go about creating web sites, there is a good chance that many of us have made the same choice and could benefit from sharing and comparing.
  • Those who are considering creating (or upgrading) a web site would surely appreciate hearing the strengths and weaknesses of the various options from others who are actually doing it using the software they are considering.
  • We all could benefit from sharing information about integraing other tools such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, and Twitter. What works? What doesn't?
  • Many societies have digitized local records that are not available from other sources. We can and should work together to make these records globally discoverable and accessable.
  • Many societies have developed their own unique applications and some might be willing to make the code available to other societies. Some mechanism to facilitate such an exchange shold be identified.
  • Cooperative development and support of applications of common interest could increase the quality and quantity of such applications.
  • This idea (sharing information) was the topic of a session at last years conference. See Social Networking Technology for Genealogical Societies

An additional goal should be to encourage RootsTech, FGS, and NGS to consider this topic when scheduling future conferences.

  • To RootsTech's credit, their solicitation for presentations is relatively close to the actual conference (which makes it easier to propose topics on current subjects), and they allow ad-hoc gatherings through their unconferences.
  • NGS and FGS make it much harder to propose and conduct timely sessions by requiring proposals so far in advance. While this approach may make sense for traditional Genealogical topics it does not work well for the fast pace of technological change. Perhaps they would/should consider creating a track of sessions that would be scheduled closer to the actual conference to facilitate this need.

So what is the desired outcome of this? Any or all of these would seem beneficial:

  • Establsh some means for society webmasters to communicate with each other (Google+ circles, Facebook groups?) [21 JGS webmasters are currently in a FB group, of 70 IAJGS member societies.]
  • Create a forum that would facilitate the exchange of knowledge organized around specific topics
  • Agree on a Twitter hashtag ( #GenSocWB ?) that could be used?