Two days ago, I taught a class about FamilySearch Family Tree. During the class, I mentioned that I was presenting on a webinar the next day. At the end of the class as all the participants were walking out the door, one lady asked me a question, she said, "What is a webinar?" Obviously, when I used the term "webinar" I was not communicating with some in the class. Yesterday, I was helping a patron in the Mesa FamilySearch Library, when she stopped me and commented that she was overwhelmed with all the words we were using to talk about genealogy.
This points out a significant challenge in communicating with those who are "outside" the genealogical community and/or technologically challenged. We don't speak the same language.
If I mention a "family group record," likely anyone reading this blog will know what I am talking about. But, if you dropped in here by chance and have no previous exposure to genealogy, you just might not understand what I was referring to. The same thing goes for the jargon of technology. For example, the Mesa FamilySearch Library website has a link to webinars and webcasts. But what if you don't have any idea what either of these are? Are you likely to benefit from the availability of these resources?
There is a lot of talk about expanding the base of the genealogical community to include more of the community at large. But this is unlike to happen in those communities or groups of people who are technologically challenged, because the outreach is happening online and at genealogy sponsored events. For example, there is almost no interest in my family in the subject of genealogy. Other than one of my daughters, I have no one who has even a passing interest in the Tanner family or any of my other lines. My wife's family is fairly active in genealogy and there are a number of her family members that actively pursue genealogical activities. I do have some distant relatives on my mother's side of my family that are involved. But very only a very few distant relatives on my father's side. Those who are on my father's side who are interested are also on my mother's side since my parents are related as cousins.
But we don't do a very good job of avoiding jargon when we talk to those outsiders both technologically and genealogically.
I would suggest that the next time you have an opportunity to talk to someone about genealogy, you pause and think if the words you are using have any meaning to the person you are talking to. You might just stop every few minutes in the conversation and ask the person if they know what you are talking about. You might be surprised at the answers.