26 January 2012

Cooke-ing at the Arizona Family History Expo, 20-21 Jan 2012

My short trip to Mesa, Arizona this past weekend afforded me the opportunity for some genealogy rock star worship.  I saw Lisa Louise Cooke in action. She gave three presentations at the Arizona Family History Expo 2012 and I sat in on two of them: “How the genealogist can remember everything with Evernote!” and “Common surname Google search strategies.”

Other genealogists have provided talks, webinars and articles regarding problems with researching those with common surnames, but Lisa’s talk is Google-centric and rich in search strategies. She also keeps things fresh with updates on changes in Google searches, specifically the demise of the “+” symbol as a search tool and the use of alternative tools.  Lisa’s presentation focused on using effective Google search to extract the best results, not the most results.  This is certainly a welcome strategy considering how easy it is to get overwhelmed with results.

I have been interested in Evernote for a while. After all, what genealogist overwhelmed with data can resist the promise of easy note-taking on your computer and among your electronic devices.  Lisa’s talk about Evernote as a genealogical tool for capturing and tagging information for easy retrieval was welcome.  This was her first run on this presentation, apparently, so one may expect improvement in the flow next time.  But, I have no complaints – having received what I came for: an understanding of the power of the application and how I may employ it to help my research.  I am particularly intrigued by the possibilities of sharing information and collaborating with others through Evernote.

I must say I have been an unabashed fan of Lisa Louise Cooke since last January’s Arizona Family History Expo 2011 when she delivered a tour de force presentation using Google Earth.  I had the feeling everyone in the room wanted to run off right then and there and use kmz files.  Since then, I have listened to all of her free Family History Made Easy (beginning genealogy) and Genealogy Gems podcast series and the past year of the FamilyTree Magazine podcasts. I have also subscribed and listened to her paid subscription podcast Genealogy Gems Premium.  With my iPod loaded with Lisa, my walks around the neighborhood have flown by. And I have used my exercise time to improve my genealogy research (if not my BMI). She is far and away the best interviewer in genealogy cyberspace.  One only has to listen to her November podcasts with Annie’s Ghosts author Steve Luxenberg to appreciate her perceptive questions and conversational skills.

Find her at Genealogygems.tv or subscribe to her podcasts via iTunes.  She also has a new book out: Everything you Need to Know About…How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. I purchased one of the first available and got it signed(!).  More on the book later.

I wonder if she plays heir guitar?

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