Saturday, July 10, 2021

Yearning for the Interactive


Last night, our family did something different. We waited until the sun dipped behind the tree line and the day's heat wave abated enough for us to gather, face to face outdoors, with some friends. That was something we hadn't done in such a long time, it felt almost awkward. There were no volume controls to adjust when the person at the far end of the circle mumbled into her mask, and no record buttons to press to capture that funny story for replay later. We just did something that, decades ago, used to come naturally to friends: we hung out.

We need to get back to doing that again, more often.

Perhaps it is the lingering Zoom fatigue which dimmed my enthusiasm for this past week's breaking news that RootsTech will once again be offered, free for all, virtually, come next March third through fifth. Or perhaps I'm jaded by the over-abundance of online learning opportunities. After all, I've still got over a dozen sessions from last year's RootsTech event yet to view in my queue—to say nothing of the multiple learning resources afforded us by other genealogy sites. As much as I love learning, I can't seem to find the motivation to log in and give a listen.

On the other hand, I would love to develop a way to conduct sessions online in which everyone could have some input—not a talking head being watched by a gallery of other attentive heads, but a collaborative experience with the give and take of many people sharing what they know and what they've found. A hands-on workshop. An interactive experience—as in learning as a two way street. The give and take of a live genealogy event, the kind we used to enjoy before our world got turned upside down, even if it is packaged up in a teleconferencing format.

We just really need people. To connect. Even if we're stuck in a digital domain. Surely, someone is creative enough to come up with an alternative.

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