Saturday, February 8, 2014

RootsTech Final Day

Today was the final day of RootsTech.  The Keynote speakers for the day's opening session were Todd Hansen and Stephanie Nielsen.  Todd is an emmy winning producer and TV host.  He hosts and produces The Story Trek on BYUTV.  Story Trek involves Todd randomly knocking on peoples doors and in the process of interviewing them finding a unique and interesting story about the life of the interviewee.  The theme of his show, "everyone has a story to tell", reinforced the theme of the conference. 

The second speaker, Stephanie Nielsen, was a young mother of three when she and her husband were in a serious airplane accident in which they were knocked unconscious, the plane caught on fire and she was burned over 80% of her body.  For the first several months she was wrapped up like a mummy and she could hardly move her body.  The doctors told her that the rest of her life she would be severely limited as to what she could do.  Her story was heart wrenching and in many parts she was brought to tears relating stories about her children.  I don't think there were many dry eyes in the audience either.  She blogged about her life and recovery and has written a New York Times bestseller, Heaven is Here.  Again, her main theme echoed that of the conference--everyone has a story to tell, so get busy telling it. 

I attended a couple of very helpful sessions today, particularly the final one of the day which discussed the pros and cons of the alternative methods for backing up genealogical computer data.  Following are more photos that I took today.

Above is the Backblaze Demo Theater.  About every fifteen or twenty minutes throughout each day various vendors were give 10 to 15 minutes to talk about their company and product(s).  I found it very worthwhile to spend some time there whenever I could.  Not only did you have nice comfortable seating; but the time limits forced the company representatives to really give you the "meat" about their products.  I think both the vendors and audience benefited from this type venue.

The Cyber Café provided by the Family History Library.  The computers all had access to the library's catalog and Family Search program.  Every time I walked past the area, almost all of the computer were in use.

Family Search Demo
 Find My Past Demo Area
As I mentioned yesterday, the demo theaters within each of the big four vendor exhibits were very popular with attendees.  Similar to the Backblaze Theater, the demonstrators had only a few minutes to focus on a specific feature of their software genealogy programs.  However, the audience was much smaller in number; thus, there was usually more interaction between the instructor and the audience.

Above is a photo of one of the labs where classes were conducted.  All the labs required pre-registration and an additional fee.  One of my regrets is that I didn't sign up for a couple of the labs.  I tried to stand-by for the lab on Evernote; but it was completely sold out and even if there were empty computers they wouldn't let you in, as they were concerned that the person who had signed up might show up late.  I even went down to the Registration Desk after the class started when I observed there were unoccupied computers.  They wouldn't let me buy a ticket because tickets had already been issued for all the seats.

I mentioned in yesterday's blog that it should be interesting with an estimated 4,000 youth attending today.  They were everywhere; but seemed to be interested and were well behaved.  I didn't see many in the classes; but they were all over the exhibit hall.  I think it is great that they are exposing young people to genealogy in a venue like RootsTech.
A couple of impressions from the three days.  I think there are a lot of companies chasing the same business.  There are a lot of new companies; but I don't see how they can all survive as many seem be in the same niche market.  Lots of people chasing multimedia methods of packaging people's stories, family histories and data--books, charts, videos, and photos in hardcopy and digital.  There are also some middle sized companies offering subscriptions to their data bases of genealogical data that I don't believe will be able to compete for long with the bigger players.  I asked the question in a session given by one of those companies today, "what data bases could they offer me that I don't get with my subscription.  Their answer was pretty weak.  I think they will either be absorbed by the larger companies or fade away.
Next year RootsTech will be held in conjunction with The Federation of Genealogical Society's annual meeting on 12-14 February.  I will probably just attend Jubilee in Burbank next year; but will take advantage of the many RootsTech session that are provide via streaming video on line. 
I believe the most important thing I got out of attending RootsTech 2014 is a much better appreciation for the role technology is playing in genealogy and the types of products and developments to expect in the future.  I think the leadership of the event also did an excellent job of impressing their theme upon attendees, the importance of telling their story for the benefit of future generations.  That is certainly my main objective as a genealogist!