26 January 2013

Everybody’s Talking: All At Once

Thirteen months and one day ago, I had a conversation with my big brother. I remember it so well because it occurred on Christmas Day, and well, because big brother’s are good at this kind of thing. We were talking about my new “business” which at the time of course, consisted of very little. Ancestral Journeys was very new, in fact, it technically had not even been launched yet. That happened on 1 Jan.

I digress.

Big brother makes the following statement, and I took it to heart:

"Social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s only going to grow. So you can either jump in or be left behind."

I listened. I activated a new Twitter account, grabbed onto Facebook and started exploring Google+. Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr… yes, I dove into them all.

power of community white

Who knew that thirteen short months later, I would be hosting a Twitter Chat.

Those words had never entered my sphere before, but I now know them so very well. I have learned a great deal from a variety of chats, including #blogchat, #saturdayschool and #lulybchat; but none has ever been as enjoyable as last night’s #genchat.

The idea struck me a couple of months ago, but it was something I knew I could not do alone. I circled the wagons with Terri O’Connell and Stephanie Pitcher Fishman, and we got to work. Last night’s inaugural experience was amazing, and I cannot say thank you to my co-hosts enough, nor can I ever express how truly awesome it was to see so many genealogy folks participate. It was incredible watching the message pass by; everything and everyone coming at you so fast! I’ve seen some chats that really move before, but this was something really special.

I love the comparison of Twitter to a cocktail party. I think its an amazing analogy to explain what Twitter is designed to be. Last night’s cocktail party was absolutely one I will not forget.

Here’s some stats, in case you were interested. (Source: www.hashtracking.com, compiled at 11:15pm MST, 26 Jan 2013. This site produces statistics based on an individual hashtag for the past twenty-four hour period.)  The #genchat hash tag produced…
  • 1,146 tweets, which generated…
  • 766,955 impressions, reaching an audience of…
That’s pretty impressive stuff!

It is an absolute compliment to see tweets such as this…
@familyreflect: “Totally planned my entire evening so I would be home in time for the first #genchat.”
@wakela: “Mind still going a mile a minute after the great #genchat can’t wait until Feb 8th for next one.” 
@ddaruth: “Great #genealogy #genchat tweets running in my brain! Lots of great ideas & info for today’s research. nice way to spend a Friday night!”

You can see all the topic specific tweets on Storify. I cut out a few of the jokes. You kinda’ had to be there. Make sure to read all the way through to the end, though, because that’s where all the little hints and goodies for location specific research went.

The next #genchat will occur on Feb 8, 9pm CST, when we will discuss “Your Best 60 Minutes of Research.” The schedule for the entire year is available on Conference Keeper, as well as badges you can download and put on your own blog or website.

So, Big Brother, did you ever think that Little Sister would be doing this when you gave me that fateful advice?

Jen & Charlie Claus 001_edited-1
Big Brother playing Santa Claus, with me on his knee.
Many years ago...
Photo: Personal archives of the author.


  1. Congratulations, Jen! What a success story!

    1. Thanks, Jacqi! I'm still a little giddy over the whole thing, really. ~ Jen

  2. Lovely post, and picture! I think #genchat was so much fun, with all that information and experience rushing past. I learned some serious things, too, like the centrality of FamilySearch (have to go there more) and the importance of both digital and hard copy archives.

    I'm really going to have to think about my best 60 minutes of research. That's a tough one!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Mariann! Your questions were wonderful, and it was great to see people reach out to each other, in a display of true collaboration. Feb 8ths topic is a tough one - what do you do when you only have 60 minutes in a day to devote to research? How do you start? Where? We'll be looking for folks to share their suggestions and tips.
      Looking forward to some great comments from you! You always have so much to contribute. ~ Jen

  3. Yes. Yes, I did! I knew you'd be a natural, Jen.

    But that picture! Wow.

    1. Well, thanks for that Big Brother! That picture is a classic, I love it. I also love that another sister is hiding in the background... Appreciate you chiming in!


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