Saturday, May 21, 2011

NGS 2011 - Wrap Up

The last day of NGS 2011 was a week ago today and here I am still writing about it. What can I say, there was a lot going on and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Most of the classes I attended were not just good they were outstanding. The North Charleston Convention Center was a nice venue - except for the issue of cell service in and around the building but that's on AT&T (more about that in a minute).

This was my third conference since becoming a GeneaBlogger and each time I've met people that I felt like I already knew because of this wonderful on-line community. I’m even starting to see “old friends” that I’ve met at previous conferences. I won't try to name everyone I met because I'd be sure to leave someone out. I know there were many bloggers there that I didn’t have an opportunity to meet but I especially enjoyed hanging out with Greta, Liz (and her friend, Donna), DearMYRTLEGinger, Cheryl and Jennifer (and her daughter, Ellie). If you haven’t seen Ellie’s video about NGS you must check it out.

Thursday I wrote about what seemed to me (and others that I talked with) to be a conflicting social media policy at the conference. There was an immediate response from NGS and lots of other comments so if you read the post but didn’t read the comments, you should probably check that out. Apparently, an oversight in updating the scripts used for announcements before each session is what caused the confusion. Some people have mentioned that they take “turn off” to mean “silence” when it comes to cell phones these days and it appears that was what NGS meant but how do you really know someone’s intent? I initially thought the same thing but after hearing it over and over and never hearing any mention of silence it started to feel like they meant what they were saying. Hopefully, announcements will be clearer in the future.

The only real problem at NGS was cell service in the convention center and that certainly was beyond the control of conference organizers. AT&T customers rarely had a signal inside the building and often not even in the parking lot so that pretty much negated the questions about whether or not we could use social media during sessions. I felt really sorry for a vendor in the Exhibit Hall who had bought an iPad with AT&T service specifically for the conference and it was completely useless to her.

Things started out fine in the opening session but, once we left the Performing Arts room, AT&T service took a nosedive until Saturday when it improved but still wasn’t available everywhere. There may have been a spot or two in the building where there was sporadic service but for the most part the building was an AT&T dead zone. Between sessions, you would see people next to the windows and even out in the parking lot holding their phones over their head trying to find a signal. It just shows how attached we all are to instant communication and if it hadn’t been so frustrating, it might have been funny.

This was my first NGS conference but hopefully won’t be my last. I’m already looking forward to Cincinnati in 2012 since that’s only a couple of hours from home. In the meantime, there is FGS in September and Georgia Family History Expo in November plus I have RootsTech 2012 on my wish list.

Now that I’ve been home a few days and finally finished writing about the conference, it’s time to dig into all of the research I did while I was in South Carolina. No doubt there’s a blog post or two in there somewhere.


  1. Thanks for posting such great information about NGS, I feel like I have "the inside scoop". I'm preparing to go to Jamboree, and it will only be my second genealogy conference, so I need all the help I can get!

  2. Heather - Glad you enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to following you and all the other bloggers headed to Jamboree. That's a conference on my wish list.

  3. Did you have service at your hotel or did Charleston in general not have good service? I was in Pensacola in April and had very little service anywhere with Sprint. Strange how that happens and very frustrating. If that's a known issue the conference center could have told the NGS who could have passed that on. Knowing up front would have been helpful to people. NGS was my first genealogy conference when it was in Kansas City a few years back. That was before I was blogging and "knew" any other genealogists, I enjoyed it though.

  4. Jenna, AT&T wasn't great in the general North Charleston area but it wasn't dead like it was most of the time in the conference center. I don't think I ever had a full signal anywhere in that area. I talked to people with Verizon who had a good signal inside the building. I think I talked to at least one person with Sprint who also had a good signal in the building.

    AT&T was much better in downtown Charleston. I even had 3G on Sunday at Ft. Sumter.