Sunday, February 06, 2011

RootsTech 2011: It's not your grandmother's genealogy conference

The multi-talented Anne Roach, serving as 2011  RootsTech Conference coordinator, reports via Facebook:
"Almost 1800 RootsTech registrants, with almost 2600 attendees including FSDN [Family Search Developers Network] and consultant training classes... not including volunteers."

WOW! This is better than the usual turnout for the annual conferences of the National Genealogical Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) or BYU Genealogy & Technology conference. It looks like has figured out how to pull together a successful technology conference, on the heels of assisting with sponsoring the 2010 NGS Conference held in the same Salt Palace venue in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. 

But let us remember, RootsTech isn't just another "show and tell" genealogy conference. Many sessions are geared toward technology providers who wish to see how family historians use their products.  This difference in approach to appeal to tech companies, is reflected in the listing of sponsors not normally associated with genealogy conferences, including:
  • Microsoft (Genealogists do use MS Office products, don't they?)
  • Dell (I am typing on a Dell computer right now!)
  • Oracle (Open, integrated software and hardware.)
  • ViaWest (This is a data center service.)
  • Novell (Computer networks are moving into the norm with multiple-computer households.)
  • Utah Technology Council
  • Sprint (Genealogists do use cell phones!)
Interestingly, there are multiple keynote addresses from an mix of high-profile technologists and genealogists:

Shane Robison

Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Technology Officer
Hewlett–Packard Company

Brewster Kahle

Founder of the Internet Archive
Digital Librarian

Curt B. Witcher

Historical Genealogy Department Manager
Allen County Public Library

Jay Verkler

CEO, FamilySearch International

Wednesday's pre-conference festivities for genealogy bloggers includes a tour of FamilySearch's microfilm distribution center and dinner together. Thursday, we'll share an early morning breakfast.

The conference begins Thursday morning with an 8am opening session. The schedule is online at:

Ol' Myrt here will be teaching a class on Easy Digital Newsletters and guiding a session on Virtual Presentations: Second Life. My good friend Claire V. Brisson-Banks and I will discuss print-on-demand publishing in our presentation Get Your Book Published. I'll participate in two roundtable panel discussions moderated by Thomas MacEntee, Virtual Presentations (sponsored by Legacy Family Tree) and Genealogy Blogs: Impact and Influence in the Genealogy Community. As soon as I receive the schedule with room assignments, you can be sure Ol' Myrt here will let her DearREADERS know.

Be sure to check out the RootsTech Community Zone Expo Hall. Admission is free and the hall features collaboration stations, a family history mini–lab, RootsTech playground and high–tech product demos, opening during on the following schedule:
Thursday: 10:00am to 5:00pm
Friday: 9:30am to 5:00pm
Saturday: 9:30am to 3:00pm

Night at the Planetarium 
On Thursday night  Salt Lake’s Clark Planetarium opens up exclusively for RootsTech attendees. Look through the lens of the Hubble Telescope during a 3D IMAX movie, discover the universe with a star show, and get hands-on experience with astronomy and space exploration. Event planners say "Enjoy the company of your peers and a casual dinner–all included with your conference registration!"

Late Night at the Library
On Friday night, stay up late at the Family History Library! Extended hours will enable both experienced genealogists and novices alike to discover this amazing resource in a whole new light. And if you don’t know a pedigree chart from a probate record, come to a unique workshop designed to introduce technology experts to the basics of family history. 

The second floor computer lab is the site of the 6:30pm broadcast of the APG Association of Professional Genealogists Second Life Chapter meeting, featuring Craig R. Scott, CG speaking on Civil War Military Records.

There's still time to register at RootsTech 2011: It's not your grandmother's genealogy conference.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. I'm counting the hours now, not the days, until I set off for SLC. I'm so excited! I must have been one of the first people to register, and I'm so glad I did. I never realised it would turn out to be so BIG. And of course I'm looking forward to catching up with my friends there.

    Bring it on!

  2. YES, Audrey, you were one of the first to register, and you have the farthest to come! It will be great to see you again. Since last we met, you've become quite a geneablogger with your "The Family Recorder". I've particularly learned from your discussion of record search and cataloging challenges at the revamped website.