google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Many Faces of Rootstech | The Armchair Genealogist

The Many Faces of Rootstech

Little did I know when I signed up for Rootstech the magnitude of the learning that was about to take place.

Sure, I knew there would be plenty of classes and plenty of traditional learning. However, I didn’t anticipate the connections I would make with a cross-section of the 4000 attendees. Little did I know what I would learn from them.

Nancy Shively from Gathering Stories
Thomas and Dear Myrtle 
First, I had the honour of attending The Official Blogger Dinner.   It was so wonderful to meet a handful of the over 100 bloggers at the conference. Thomas and Pat, and Amy and Randy and Kimberley and Dick and Nancy and Caroline and Jill and Lisa and Kerry and Becky and ….I’m sorry if I missed you but the list goes on and on.

I learned that bloggers are some of the hardest working people I know. Some of them rarely left the media hub, and some rarely left the interview cubicles. No matter how exhausted Thomas must have been he always had a welcoming hello for everyone. I was very proud to be part of this community.

David Burggraff, forever known as Sven!
I didn’t really sit down to write this today to sing you the praises of the bloggers or even the praises of the key partners who assembled this brilliant conference, many that I had the honour of meeting at the blogger dinner and during the course of the week. If I may take a moment to name drop, I had the pleasure of meeting Dennis Brimhall and Jay Verkler, Ron Tanner, Rod DeGuilio and Michael Judson all of Family Search and D. Joshua Taylor from brightsolid… again the list goes on. They were all welcoming and took a genuine interest in everyone they met.

Crowds in the Exhibitors Halls

However, my mission was to take in as many lectures as I could, learn about those sitting beside me in the lectures and chat with attendees during lunch, visit the exhibits and see what wonderful toys I could share with you (more on the exhibitors and lectures in future posts). I wanted to bring you a street view of Rootstech.

I want to tell you about the attendees that I met. They were the real story for the week. Who were they? Why were they at Rootstech? Was Rootstech meeting their expectations? What was their story?

Kathy from Colorado was enjoying her Rootstech experience, she is a couple of courses away from becoming a professional genealogist. She has already taken on her first client and was excited about the possibilities ahead. We talked about blogging and social media and the importance it would play in establishing her business. 

Elaine attends many conferences and wondered how much more technology she actually needs, particularly since she hasn’t opened up the software program she bought at the last conference she attended in 2011.

Getting ready to start a hands on workshop!
Liz was a genealogist and a librarian, she was taking classes that not only would help her own personal research but enable her to better help the patrons at her library.

I sat beside blogger Michelle Roos Goodrum, The Turning of Generations in a hands on workshop. Michelle and I have now been convinced we need to go buy Word 2010 for all its tricks and toys.

Dolores is very new to technology, she just bought her first cell-phone and her friend from Provo, Utah had just come from a class on blogging. She was now convinced to start a family history blog of her own. Both these young ladies were 80 years old.

Tech Tips with Family Search

Margaret told me she was here more for the genealogy and less for the technology and Janice was very well versed in genealogy but her technology skills needed some improvement.  She was a  volunteer at a Family History Centre and was looking to improve her skills to help her patrons. She was curious about my smartphone and its note-taking capabilities. I showed her the Rootstech App, she was totally unaware of it and its uses.

Margaret told me she didn’t even know what ‘the cloud’ was before this conference. Many people I talked to did say that Josh Coates’ keynote address – Exabyte Social Clouds and other Monstrosities went right over their head.  Regardless, they found him extremely entertaining, even if they didn’t get his point.

From my discussions with attendee, bloggers and the powers that be, I learned a very important lesson. Just like our varying levels of genealogy experience we also must consider our varying levels of technology experience.

The Guys! 
We are walking a very fine line between technology becoming a help and a hindrance. In our rush for progress we can’t allow genealogy to become convoluted for researchers, as Tim Sullivan from summed it up nicely in his keynote address on Saturday, “technology needs to get out of the way.” My take - the end user needs to have a seamless enjoyable research experience and not be scared away by the technology. Let’s not allow technology to become a divide between you and your research.

The attendees that I spoke to didn’t consider themselves tech geeks but they understood the magnitude that technology will play in their genealogy research, and they realized they needed to keep learning an moving forward despite their age, skill set and time-limits. They felt strongly enough about their family history that they realized they also needed to embrace technology, and that’s why they were at Rootstech. For that I applaud them.