Sunday, November 03, 2013

How RootsTech looks from this Official Blogger's point of view

It is my honor to serve as a RootsTech2014 Official Blogger. Here are my thoughts about RootsTech and how it has morphed over the years.

RootsTech 2011 - The roll out was initially described by RT officials as "we will not compete" with the other two national US genealogy conferences. None of us knew what RT was all about, though we were told the conference would provide a unique opportunity for end users to rub shoulders with techie types in the hopes that mainstream technologies could better address the needs of genealogists. What happened? RT's live streaming pulled in a world-wide audience, exciting the masses in the genealogy category. I participated in a live streamed panel discussion, and with my iPad was able to weave comments from folks throughout the world into my part of the discussion. As an Official Blogger, we had occasion before, during and after a FamilySearch sponsored bloggers' dinner to discuss our interests and concerns with FS developers, something that was particularly high on my bucket list.

RootsTech 2012 - after some initial falderal about not permitting book vendors in this tech conference, RT officials relented, and we had an awesome exhibit hall after all. Ol' Myrt again spent the majority of her time in the media center interviewing keynote speakers and genealogy vendors to her heart's content. We started seeing folks who "had to come see what all the excitement was about", having viewed the live streaming sessions in 2011. Again several sessions were live-streamed to a world-wide audience, including one where I was in on the panel. I got better at uploading my video interviews to the web. Folks were beginning to say there was so much happening, that there seemed to be a disconnect between developers and end users, so not as much collaboration was going on.

RootsTech 2013 - This year the emphasis was on the "softer side" of genealogy by including story tellers and scrapbookers, something die-hard techies and serious genealogy researchers didn't particularly like at first. I think it was good to widen the audience. After all, "die hards" cannot live in a vacuum, and eventually we all wish to "tell the story" of our ancestors' lives as we've come to know them.  You can relive RootsTech2013 by viewing the archived streamed sessions here.

Ol' Myrt here served as an Official Blogger and after three years finally figured out how to best upload video interviews I made in the media center almost within the hour thanks to the able assistance of the tech team manning the interview booths. I experimented by recording several onsite Hangouts on Air, but with all the noise in the vendor hall, the resulting recordings were very rough cut. We did have fun a few days prior to RootsTech broadcasting Mondays with Myrt live from the "glass enclosed nerve center" on the third floor of the Family History Library. This gave us time to spotlight upcoming RootsTech presenters and class sessions. Let's not forget the "Hessian soldiers" breakthrough that HOA fostered, including specific onsite research over the next week.


So with RootsTech 2014 scheduled at the Salt Palace February 6th - 8th, what's my take? The emphasis this year is definitely global as RT officials have said: 

"RootsTech (#rootstech) is a unique global event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology. In 2014, we are targeting over 100,000 attendees online and in-person! "
Obviously, downtown Salt Lake City cannot handle 100,000 in-person visitors, nor can everyone afford to travel from around the globe to attend in person. This means attracting more people to the live streamed events, thanks to the magic of the internet. I also wonder about more foreign language sessions.

For those who can attend in person, there is a new Getting Started Track for Beginners. Find out more here.

There will be a new Family Discover Day billed as free inspirational classes to learn more about strengthening family relationships across generations through family history as well as activities specifically for youth ages 12-18. With a large LDS population in the greater Salt Lake region, as interest grows, it will be easy expand to other rooms in the Salt Palace. Registration required.

I look forward to RootsTech each year, for the networking with other bloggers, researchers and developers of cool websites and software to help us get back in the ancestral hunt. Attendance at RT has certainly eclipsed other nationally-ranked US genealogy conferences, and rightly so. What genealogist can resist an excuse to come to Salt Lake City, attend a conference, and get some research done at the world-famous Family History Library? Any genealogy vendor worth his or her salt won't miss the opportunity to find out what genealogy innovations their target audience wish to see in the future.

RootsTech -- It's all about FINDING FAMILY.

See you there in 2014!

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

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1 comment:

  1. It is exciting to see how RT has developed over the years. I love this conference! Thank you for the post!