Monday, March 30, 2020

Learning How *Not* to Get Zoombombed

What? Is zoombombed not yet a term in your vocabulary? You say, as a genealogist, you don't need to add that one to your lexicon? Think again.

With COVID-19 sweeping the world, and trickling down to each of our own communities, its impact includes disrupting many of the activities of daily life we take for granted. Far, far down on the list—far, that is, beyond "essential activities"—is the monthly genealogical society meeting. Here in our neck of the (California) woods, we've already had to cancel our March meeting, which would have occurred one week after the governor's executive order implementing "social distancing." At that point, how could we have known how much more this threat would have exploded?

By now, people from many walks of life have learned how to work from home. Forget work; about the only way to keep in touch with other people, whether for work or social reasons, is through technology. Apparently, if we are to hold any meetings at all, we will have to take to this technology, ourselves—which is why, in the weekly email from ConferenceKeepers, Tami Osmer Mize observed, "Lots of new Virtual genealogy events added" to their website's listing of family history learning opportunities.

If it seems odd to see a group of people dedicated to preserving family history reach out to embrace the newest in technology to do so, welcome to the post-COVID-19 world. If I am going to hold a board meeting for my genealogical society in April, I am going to have to do it remotely. Same with our April membership meeting, if the situation lingers long enough.

Which means mounting the video-conferencing learning curve, and fast. In our case, the "textbook" will be any Google search results for Zoom. Hence my stumbling upon the warnings about not getting Zoombombed.

Perhaps we can thank the Coronavirus for introducing such new terms to our everyday vocabulary. It was in a Zoom videoconferencing meeting when a hacker stole in, co-opted the controls and subjected scores of participants to racist rants and/or hardcore pornographic images. Not just an isolated case, such events occurred in corporate meetings as well as distance learning sessions at colleges across the country.

Thus, what was a simple device to help people work together despite their remote locations just acquired a steep learning curve of "if you want to avoid that, do this."

All I wanted to do was learn how to invite my six fellow board members to this new way of conducting meetings. And here we are, zooming into a digital Wild West.


  1. I have heard some good things about zoom:) Stay safe!

    1. Yes, so far, we are quite pleased with it. Actually, it is a lifesaver for our business, but people are coming up with all sorts of ways to use it now, just to keep in touch.


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