Five weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 at Olympia, London, and it is about time that I got myself organised. I have already ordered my tickets (although there are still plenty of discount codes about on the internet if you haven’t) and I don’t really need to worry about travel arrangements.
Really all I need to think about is making the most of my time whilst I am there, so which talks do I want to attend? What questions do I want to ask? Which products to I want to try/buy? And what am I going to have for lunch? (OK so maybe that last one is not actually that important)
Next week a copy of the show guide is being given away with the upcoming edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, but if you can’t wait until then the show website has copies of the floor plan (for use in conjunction with the list of exhibitors) and the timetables of talks and workshops (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). This weekend I will try to print off the timetables and decide who I want to see this year (I don’t think I will bother with the celebrities this year, they always over run and are always packed to bursting point).
This weekend I need to decide whether to create a couple of t-shirts (or three) to advertise my blog and some business cards for a bit of networking here and there. Also I need to scrape some of the mud off my walking boots, I don’t want to be trailing mud around Olympia as I wander from stand to stand.
The latest celebrity guest for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 was announced yesterday. Hugh Quarshie is scheduled to be attending the show at Olympia, London on Saturday 26th February, but for me there is a far more important visitor the following day.
Preliminary workshop timetables have also been released on the show’s website and hidden away on the timetable for Sunday 27th February at 12:oopm is the description of a talk by Lisa Cook entitled “How to make Google work harder for your family history!”
The talk is described as follows: “Discover innovative ways to work smarter and find more family history golden nuggets than you thought possible with the power of Google. Create a Genealogy Research Homepage. Learn quick and easy ways to follow the best genealogy Podcasts and Blogs. Make Google Your own personal genealogy research assistant with Google Alerts. We’ll make Google search the web for you 24 hours a day and provide tips for how to get Google to deliver the best results to your email inbox.”
Although her name is spelt wrong this sounded very much like US genealogy podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcast. As a long time listener of the Genealogy Gems Podcast it look forward to seeing Lisa over here in London and to seeing one her presentations in person. The latest edition of the Genealogy Gems e-Newsletter arrived in my inbox today and the list of upcoming appearances confirmed that she will be attending Who Do You Think You Are? Live.
I am sure we will hear more about Lisa’s upcoming visit in a future episode of the podcast, but let me just say thank you Lisa for coming over to see us in England and sharing some your Gems with us.
Today I have finally got around to buying my tickets for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011. Taking advantage of one of the many special offer codes that have been available from various organisations I have booked tickets for all three days; Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th February 2011.
It is a bit early for buying train tickets yet, besides I haven’t decided whether I am going to travel up to London everyday or stay at a hotel in the city (working for a hotel company has its benefits).
Now all I need to do (apart from making a decision on whether to book a hotel) is sit back and wait to see what else the organisers announce and possibly book some workshop tickets when they become available. Hopefully they will publish a copy of the show guide in advance like they did last year so I have some ideas about who I want to see and decide what questions I need to ask.
Perhaps I should start thinking about getting some business cards printed and possibly a t-shirt or two printed with my blog URL on it and maybe some postcards as well. Nothing like a bit of self-promotion!
I don’t worry a great deal about the number of visitors my blog gets, I don’t go out of my way to market the blog, but I do keep an eye on my stats, just to make sure that people are still reading my blog and I am not wasting my time.
Last year I encountered an increase in visitors when Who Do You Think You Are? was being broadcast on BBC One last year, and this year was much the same. When I wrote about each episode my number of visitors jumped. I haven’t done the maths, but I would say the number of visitors probably doubled, which for my little blog is not a huge number, but still quite pleasing.
I certainly wasn’t expecting what happened yesterday, which turned out to be the best day ever for the number of visitors to my blog. I knew something was up when I checked my stats in the morning and saw that the number of visitors before about 7.30am was more than the usual pre-WDYTYA? daily totals. The numbers continued to rise throughout they day, and as you can see from the graph below the total ended around four or five times the average.
The reason for this was BBC buzz, which had automatically found my blog posts about WDYTYA? and was displaying links to them alongside the programme information on the BBC website. It appears to be a new feature, and it apparently likes my blog posts.
If I was a professional blogger I would have done something to take advantage of all this new traffic, and I might have done if I wasn’t at work, but it has been a real eye-opener, and makes me think about what I could achieve in terms of visitors if I really put my mind to it.
The producers of Who Do You Think You Are? were certainly saving the best for last. Last night’s episode featuring actor Alan Cumming was without doubt the best episode of the seventh series, and probably one of the best episodes in the show’s six year history.
Alan Cumming was an enthusiastic participant and one that I had heard of previously (although my memories are of The High Life rather than any of his more acclaimed performances). At the start seemed to be enjoying hearing about the stories his grandfather’s bravery a little too much, but my heart really went out to him at the end with the story of his grandfather’s tragic and needless death.
He certainly didn’t seem prepared for the shocking details and I certainly felt more than a little uncomfortable watching his reactions on screen. In an episode that focused very much on the effects that war and killing can have on someone’s mental health, I couldn’t help but wonder what effect the programme might have on Cumming himself and ultimately his mother, and wonder if perhaps the programme went a little too far.
Ironically I had earlier in the evening written (in a private email) about how I felt there had been a lack of any real emotion in this series and I can safely say that this was the only episode where I personally felt any real emotional reaction whilst watching the series.
As well as being an excellent episode in itself, it has also served to highlight just how mediocre some of the previous episodes in this series had been. The “shocking” story of Bruce Forsyth’s bigamist great-grandfather that opened the series was nothing in comparison to the truly heart-breaking story of Cumming’s grandfather.