Cyndi’s List Comes to Colorado
Mention Cyndi’s List, I’m There!
On Saturday, Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List fame presented a whole day of genealogical enrichment at Colorado Genealogical Society‘s sold out spring seminar (which I am informed was really a joint effort between them and their CIG). I don’t know if they lucked into her or if she just always goes around speaking at society seminars but, fortuitously, last November I had the wherewithal to order myself a ticket. The woman who made that list! A kind of genealogical celebrity, if such a thing is possible. Even if she just talked about the list, (the first non-subscription genealogy web site I ever used), I knew I’d come away improved. (At this point I need to give a big ole shout out to the fine folks at CGS/CIG for their wonderful and competent hosting of the event. They had homemade cookies and about a zillion great door prizes!)
Excitement kept us warm as we waited in an orderly queue for the opening of the Denver Public Library. The basement level conference room soon filled with 300 of the smartest genealogists in the state, the crowd skewing gray-haired, as most genealogist gatherings are still wont to do. (Most younger genealogists don’t yet see the value or what?) I grabbed my packet, stuck on my name badge, and took a chair in the reserved second row ignoring the woman two places to my right who announced, repeatedly (as if I were deaf! LOL), that a special sticker was required to grace those seats. Lady, just because I’m not a little person or 100 years old or use a walker or have hearing aids the size of Texas, you still need to mind your own beeswax, m’k? My awesome seat was about 10 feet from the podium.1
The Truth Is Out There
Anyone who’s done any family research outside of click-a-clan tree building (Do you like that? I’m afraid the perfect name still eludes me), has used Cyndi’s List. Cyndi believes that everything any of us needs to be able to excel in our quest for family history excellence is discoverable and available out there on the Web3. This is not to say she thinks all of the records we need are there, that is quite a different thing and only fools believe that. Rather, she is convinced that all of the resources you and I need to become really kick ass genealogists, to be able to find any record, digital or otherwise, as well as understand it’s context, analyze it’s integrity, do high level inferential thinking, ALL of that, we can find while sitting in our jammies at 2 am munching on macaroons. And she’s created this list to prove it.
If You Build It, Cyndi, They Will Come
Cyndi’s List started way, way back in the fall of 1995, when the Web was still young and IE was cutting-edge (satire!), as a one page printed list of genealogically relevant internet site bookmarks.4 Not real confident with how it’d go over with her local society, she bravely presented the list for their consideration. “They jumped on me like a pack of ravenous wolves.”, she wryly recalls5. Indeed, Cyndi. And happy is the world that they were thus hungry. The list grew quickly, made its way online (Cyndi learned HTML!), and now contains over 300,000 cross referenced, categorized links6. And she still does it all by herself, with input and corrections from her community. Cyndi spends 12 hour days showering that list with love, always improving it- adding new links, mending broken ones, organizing and reorganizing or adding to the categories, and supplying vital explanatory content7. She cares about its integrity. She cares about OUR integrity. She wants us all to succeed. I think she loves us. Next time I’m drinking with my genealogy buddies (this has NEVER happened, but I can dream), I shall raise a toast to Cyndi and Her Excellent, Essential List!
Cyndi, Rock Star
And it turns out she isn’t just some lady with an online list. She really is a genealogy and technology rock star. A genealogy-technology rock star, if you will. She gave us three additional talks, all very relevant, content rich, and experience level agnostic. And all involving lots of technology. This student was pleasantly surprised at the depth of her knowledge and her earnest desire to share it freely so that we can all be better. Her delivery was professional but personable, presented with humor and a twinkle in her eye. I wonder if she realizes just how good she is. And she wasn’t lecturing, she was sharing. She didn’t preach, she taught. I bet all across Colorado there are new, possibly even grey-haired, users clicking in her list.
What do you think? Comment below.
Footnotes and stuff
1. I am, in fact, pretty much deaf. And I hate paying for something I can’t hear, don’t you?
3. From my notes taken during the seminar.
5. Yes, she said that. And a lot of other funny stuff.
6. My notes again but you can find a lot of this information at Cyndi’s List FAQs. Web site. 23 March 2015. http://www.cyndislist.com/faqs/#part1