RootsTech 2012 Review: My Perspective

RootsTech 2012

[Editor's Note: this post is part of an Open Thread Thursday conversation at GeneaBloggers.]

RootsTech – Hype and Expectations

Did RootsTech live up to your expectations or the hype, especially if you were a first time attendee (in person or online)?

My perspective is different since it seems that I’ve been involved with several aspects of RootsTech for several months including social media, planning and trying to get the word out to the genealogy community.  And since this is my second RootsTech, my perspective is a bit skewed.

My hope is that for all those first-timers, RootsTech did live up to or exceeded expectations.

RootsTech – The Home Game

If you “played along at home” via the RootsTech website, how was the quality of the content? Were there any technical problems in watching the live stream?  Are video clips and handouts easy to find?

The feedback I’ve seen on Facebook and other areas of social media is that the ability to participate in RootsTech from afar was a blessing for many.  In fact, the RootsTech staff told me there were over 3,500 nodes on the live streaming at one point on Thursday morning.  Genealogists and family historians from as far away as Europe, Australia and New Zealand were participating.

I appreciate the daily recaps on the RootsTech site and I am looking forward to the individual videos.  I did find the syllabus materials difficult to find however – visit the Downloads section for various materials.

RootsTech – The Tech Genealogy Mix

What about the mix of genealogy and technology?  Was it too “techie” or perhaps not enough tech?

The tech vs. genealogy conversation was a huge one, even before RootsTech.  I heard from many techies that it wasn’t techie enough.  I heard from many genealogists that some of the technology was “over my head.”  I believe RootsTech will work, and even struggle, to find the right mix.  The attempt in late 2011 to not have booksellers was part of this struggle. [Note: I am not mentioning this to bring up "old news" - I think the way the genealogy community helped bring resolution to this issue was a success for all involved.  I'm just stating a fact.]

Just like a fine engine, RootsTech will need constant tweaking in this area.  Perhaps there should be more than just a User and a Developer track for next year’s event.  Also a pre-RootsTech survey to help attendees determine their tech comfort zone and then perhaps let them know what sessions might be best for them to attend.

RootsTech – The Venue

If you attended in person, anything about the logistics or the facilities that you would change? Does RootsTech need a larger section of the Salt Palace Convention Center next year?

I despise the elevators in the section of the Salt Palace where RootsTech was held.  I call each one a “bread box of death.” They don’t serve the venue well and as a speaker I found it difficult to get from one place to another.

With a 35% increase in attendance this year, I wonder if RootsTech will need to expand to another part of the Salt Palace which is actually quite cavernous.

Oh, and lower the volume on the overhead system.  Many times it was like a passing jumbo jet – I had to sit there and wait until I could continue a conversation with someone.

If I Were King of RootsTech

If you were King or Queen of RootsTech and planning for 2013, what would you do differently?

  • Bring in the young folks.  I know this is the big challenge for genealogy overall, but we still have far to go to make sure that the under 50 crowd is finding the genealogy industry.
  • More industry-related events and focus.  For me, I spend quite a bit of time talking about the “business of genealogy” with vendors and others.  RootsTech would do well to have events or sessions that discuss where the genealogy industry is and the future.
  • Bigger venue.  See above.
  • Refine the tech mix. Bring in new vendors but don’t abandon our genealogy traditions of booksellers at conferences.  Remember the best way to introduce technology, especially to an older demographic like genealogy, is to walk that balance beam.
  • Use a conference manager for 2013.  RootsTech didn’t fool anyone with its attempt to run an event with lots of committees and no conference manager.

My RootsTech Elevator Speech

What would your elevator speech be for RootsTech if someone unfamiliar with the event were to ask you “What’s RootsTech?”

During RootsTech, the FamilySearch video crew had the chance to interview me and ask my thoughts about RootsTech.  This is basically my elevator speech about RootsTech:

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Disclosure statement: I was a RootsTech Official Blogger and I also served as a judge on the Rootstech Developer Challenge. To review the other material connections I have with genealogy vendors, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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