RootsTech 2014: Reaching the Summit with New Mountains to Climb, Part 1

With Captain Jack Starling

With Captain Jack Starling

RootsTech 2014 offered participants an expanded view of all that is available to the family history and genealogy community. There were wow moments for many of those who came from 49 states and 32 countries! If anyone else knows someone from South Dakota, the lone holdout state, we’ve been asked to bring them along next year.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The Innovator Summit was held on Wednesday, February 5th. “RootsTech 2014: Reaching New Heights …” discusses the opening session. The day of the summit, I found myself tweeting, “[s]o many choices, so many friends, so little time!” The result of the larger conference and venue was that I attended a few sessions, not many, saw some friends, not all, and focused on capturing fleeting moments rather than reflective, hence the delay in sharing my experiences at RootsTech.

Find #MyToday at mytoday.co.

Find #MyToday at mytoday.co.

In one session, Cydni Tetro, who is employed as a Disney Imagineer, shared her vision of an app that would allow an individual to gather posts and tweets from multiple social media accounts into story form for preservation on the FamilySearch site. It is called #MyToday and it is in early beta. Cydni invited everyone to access mytoday.co and, using their Facebook account, create a story and provide feedback. Unfortunately, the story created will not be preserved but it will visually allow the creator an idea of the finished product.

In the evening the RootsTech 2014 FamilySearch Blogger and Media Dinner was held at the Salt Palace.

FamilySearch Industry Leaders Town Hall

FamilySearch Industry Leaders Town Hall

For the first time bloggers were invited to participate virtually. Announcements were made, including an introduction to The Year of the Obituary and FamilySearch’s Captain Jack Starling. The goal is to create an index of 100,000,000 obituaries because “dead men tell no tales, but their obituaries do.” FamilySearch is partnering with many organizations and volunteers to make this happen. The project will begin with obituaries from the United States and expand to other nations. Although an obituary is only as good as its source, obituaries provide vital and biographical information important to genealogical research. Sometimes they even include a story or two.

By the way, there was a town meeting held with some of the top executives from FamilySearch International. It was a great opportunity to ask questions. All were invited.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Please welcome to the stage ... Shipley Munson!

“Please welcome to the stage … Shipley Munson!”

Shipley Munson welcomed RootsTech attendees to this year’s conference. He introduced Dennis C. Brimhall, the CEO of FamilySearch International. Brimhall had four important points:

  1. The power of stories
  2. FamilySearch.org enhancements, including an attempt to create a texting app so that those who do not have access to computers and smart phones can participate via this technology
  3. The role and importance of records, including the importance of indexing
  4. The importance of partnerships to accelerate online record access. At the current pace, it will take an estimated 11 generations before the records at FamilySearch will be digitally preserved. With partnerships, it is estimated we can reduce this to one!

After Brimhall’s remarks Josh Taylor introduced his boss Annelies van den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History. She introduced herself by sharing part of her own family history and her vision for the partnership entered into by the leading genealogy companies. Finally, Ree Drummond, The Pioneeer Woman, shared her introduction to family history and her blogging journey. She encouraged others to start blogging or writing their stories using the medium of their choice.
Expo Hall RootsTech 2014. WPThe Expo Hall opened shortly thereafter with vendors prepared to greet attendees. This year RootsTech provided free Expo passes to those who wanted to walk the hall. With presenters taking the stage at the BackBlaze theatre, the Expo Hall was a continual education hot spot. I must admit that I only caught a quick glimpse of all that was going on. I needed another day to devote to investigating everything available!

Dr. Spencer Wells, Kenny Freestone, Dr. Tim Janzen, and Benett Greenspan

(From L to R) Dr. Spencer Wells, Kenny Freestone, Dr. Tim Janzen, MD, and Bennett Greenspan

I enjoyed two sessions on DNA. CeCe Moore presented her strategies for “Using Genetic Genealogy to Discover the Ancestry of Adoptees (and Scale Recent Genealogical Brick Walls).” As an expert genetic genealogist, she moderated the session that allowed attendees to ask questions to the experts representing the leading DNA companies. One of the benefits of physically attending RootsTech is the opportunity for an attendee to receive an answer to his or her specific question from top experts in the field.

Vocal Point at RootsTech 2014 Opening Social

Vocal Point at RootsTech 2014 Opening Social

In the evening, attendees were treated to light refreshments and a concert by Vocal Point, who opened with “Footloose.” Vocal Point performed songs for all generations and shared a few anecdotes related to their own experience with family history.

RootsTech 2014 had so much to offer whether attending in person or virtually, so I have a musing question: how long do you think it would take to apply all that one could learn from RootsTech 2014?

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

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