Looking back at WDYTYA Live 2017

Well, that is my WDYTYA Live trip over for another year. To be fair, it has been over for more than 24 hours now, but it has taken me that long to muster the energy to open my laptop again. As always, it was utterly exhausting: two long(ish) train journeys split by three days of presentations and talking. It will take me a few days (or maybe weeks) to fully digest everything that I got from attending the event, but I had a blast.

So... what were the highlights?

The main takeaway is always meeting up with old friends and making new contacts: this year was no exception. It was great to catch up with my old coursemates from Strathclyde Uni, John Burt and Kathryn Burtinshaw. They were there to talk about their newly published book, Luncatics, Imbeciles & Idiots. Their talk was fascinating (if a little graphic in places!) and it is clearly a topic both are passionate about. And, of course, a copy of the book is now on my (massive) 'to be read' pile.

I also got the chance to meet face-to-face with lots of people I only ever see in the virtual world though the RQG and APG networks. Genealogy can be a lonely job sometimes - you work on your own a lot - so it is great to put faces to the names of people that you chat to in the virtual world. It was also great to see the amount of interest that both the networks got at the show, in particular, RQG. APG is a well-established organisation, while RQG is something of the new kid on the block (although it has many established names behind it). They had some mini-talks on the stand (including an outstanding one on adoption). They are making these available on their website in the coming days and I'll post details of the links on my social media feeds when they become available.

I didn't attend a whole lot of talks this year, but I always make a point of taking in some of the DNA presentations (sponsored by Family Tree DNA), for two reasons: 1/ there are always new developments as the science is constantly progressing and 2/ I know I still don't understand it as well as I could. I saw several great talks, but the one that made the biggest impact was the one by Michelle Leonard. Full disclosure, I know Michelle pretty well, but I can honestly say that every time she speaks about DNA, I learn new things and it all becomes a little clearer for me. I believe that all the DNA workshop talks were filmed and will be available on YouTube in the coming days/weeks. Previous years talks are there just now. If you are interested at all, I can recommend them. I'll also be blogging in the coming weeks/months about my own adventures in genetic genealogy and DNA testing.

Amid the general exhaustion and being cooped up in what basically amounts to an aircraft hangar on some of the nicest days of the year so far, it was just wonderful to be around so many like-minded people. If you are anything like me, you find that 'non-genie' friends and family nod politely and smile sympathetically at you when you start waxing lyrical about the latest record availability, or the odd change of name you found for 3 x great Auntie Betty. But at WDYTYA, we can all 'geek out' with each other, safe in the knowledge that everyone else there will just 'get it'. And that is a truly wonderful experience, even if you utterly exhausted by the whole process.