28    Jun 20110 comments

Jamboree 2011: Education, technology and fun

The Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Jamboree is one of the best-run large regional events in the United States.  MyHeritage chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz and myself again attended and presented at this year's conference, held June 10-12, 2011, in Burbank, California.

Conference co-chairs Paula Hinkle and Leo Myers, in addition to their large team of volunteers, always make this an excellent experience.

Some highlights:

Some 70 genealogy bloggers – a record number at any gen conference - blogged, tweeted and Facebooked throughout the event, as well as participating in social events, including an ice cream party and a piñata smashing, among others.

There are many good sports among this friendly group whose conference get-togethers are like a family reunion. A blogger media island enabled the bloggers to continuously tweet and Facebook over the three-day event.

More seriously, there were outstanding sessions to attend, ranging from breakfasts to evening dinners and everything in between. Among those attended by Daniel and myself were:

  • A free Kids' Camp attended by many young people, including Boy and Girl Scouts.
  • World table discussion, where Daniel and I headed the Jewish table at two sessions, answered questions and directed visitors to many resources for their individual quests.
  • An informative breakfast presentation on using social media for societies by Thomas MacEntee, and
  • A full-day family history writers conference.

Read on for more details.

Genealogy expert and author John Philip Coletta

The separate full-day event for family history writers took place immediately before the official conference began. Instructors included many stars in this field. My choices were the four presentations by expert author John Philip Colletta:

  • Assembling and writing a narrative family history 
  • How to build historical context: turning biographical facts into real life events
  • Principles of good writing and good storytelling
  • Writing a narrative family history: The challenges, pitfalls and rewards

Perhaps the best part of this conference - and all the events in which MyHeritage participates - is meeting happy MyHeritage users who dropped by the booth to say hello and let us know how the site has helped advance their research. In addition to experienced users, we had many opportunites to meet and assist newcomers to MyHeritage.  

For one California man, Daniel quickly registered him, organized his family site and literally - within a few minutes - the man had 13 Smart Matches providing many additional family details on his ancestors. His cousin in Germany had a family site, but didn’t speak English (he didn’t speak German), so Daniel demonstrated how both of them could share information easily in a bilingual format. His wife’s family, from Poland, was also a prime candidate for locating more information via the integration of MyHeritage’s new acquisition of Bliscy in Poland.

Innovations are always part of these conferences and technology is aways in the forefront.

A convenient, practical conference app

In the old days, each conference attendee received a large, heavy printed syllabus. Later the printed version gave way to the much lighter CD version, and at Jamboree 2011 - for the first time at any genealogy conference - there was an SCGS smartphone (or tablet) app.

Jamboree 2011 app dashboard

At the click of a key, each attendee could see the schedule, the syllabus and much more. This obviated the need to drag around heavy printed books or wonder what to do with a CD while working on a netbook or iPad, which do not provide a way to load a CD.

We’re all wondering which conference will be next with an app. It was convenient, practical, fun and extremely useful!

We're already looking forward to Jamboree 2012!

For more on this event, and genealogy conferences in general, see the companion post at the MyHeritage Blog here.

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