Monday, November 19, 2012
Headsets and Genealogy
I bought my first headset (Lifechat LX 3000) just before participating in my second webinar. That was back in January 2011 when Geoff Rasmussen pulled together a Rountable on virtual presentations for the first RootsTech conference. I was one of the virtual presenters.
It's funny to think that just that short time ago webinars were fairly new, not many presenters were giving them and the audience was still trying to figure out what they were. Over the next year to year and a half using headsets became standard protocol for presenters.
I would never have bought a headset if it hadn't been for the need to present webinars. I didn't use a headset in any capacity for work- or pleasure-related computer use. I didn't have a smart phone at that time so I didn't have any need to listen to anything from that source.
I'm sure some less backward people than I were using headsets but somehow it really didn't come up in conversation.
Now fast forward to November 2012 and we can see a real transformation in headset use. Not only are webinar presenters using headsets but so is the webinar audience. Geoff Rasmussen often asks his Legacy Webinar audiences to check in before the start of the presentation. Members of the audience come on for a minute, provide their name and location and chat for a bit with Geoff. It's a fun way to put a face (or at least a voice) to an otherwise invisible audience.
Dear Myrtle is taking audience participation even further. In October of this year Dear Myrtle started a weekly series called Mondays with Myrt (you can see the calendar of upcoming shows or listen to archived copies of Mondays with Myrt). The program is run every Monday at 12 noon EST (9am PST). Dear Myrtle is looking for more from her audience that just a quick check in. She is seeking active voice participation from her audience. At any point during the show she could ask for live feedback from the audience.
Why Use a Headset?
Headsets allow users communicate by voice in a very clear sounding way. The headset microphone provides much better quality than the normal built-in microphone on your computer. This is essential for communicating by voice across the internet.
This is the wave of the future! This is also driving more genealogists beyond presenters to buy headsets. The Lifechat headset mentioned above costs just $25. That's a a fairly affordable price point for most people. But it still doesn't account for nerves. Some people still might be too shy to talk online in front of an audience. More and more people, however, seem to be becoming comfortable with it.
Genealogists are also using headsets to have Skype conversations (both audio and video) to conduct family history interviews, to work on joint research or to contact people back in the old country.
And what about me? Not only am I using my headset for webinars but I am also listening to podcasts and watching videos. The world has opened up for me and I am now embracing these new forms of media. Not a day goes by where I don't put the headset on to listen to something on the internet.
I even have two pairs of headsets now. The Lifechat LX 3000 which has two ear pieces I now use mostly for pleasure listening. I've bought the Lifechat LX 4000 which has just a single ear piece for doing webinars and the Fieldstone Common radio show. That way I can hear myself talk.
What about you? Where do you stand in the headset spectrum? Do you own a headset? Do you use it for Skype, listening to webinars or participating in webinars? Or do you have a completely different use for it that I don't know about yet? I would love to hear what you think of the headset evolution in genealogy.