Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thoughts on RootsTech

Much has already been written about the RootsTech Conference, which was held last week in Salt Lake City. Randy Seaver has compiled a list of Geneablogger posts in his post RootsTech 2013 Geneabloggers Review. But I thought I'd add my two cents worth...

I managed to arrive on time for the keynote speakers on Thursday morning in spite of having to remove two inches of heavy, wet snow off of Van Dora and then driving in "rush hour" traffic through the valley. That drive stressed me out so much that I decided to forgo the keynote addresses on Friday and Saturday - knowing too that they were being recorded and would be available for viewing later.

I'm not going to give a run-down of the sessions that I attended but will just say that with 6700+ people in attendance, most rooms were crowded. There were several sessions I wanted to attend but couldn't because the room was already at capacity when I arrived 5-10 minutes before they were due to start!

This year I decided to attend sessions on topics that I knew very little about. For the most part, that strategy worked out well. However, I had a big issue with the descriptions of some of the sessions and the fact that very few were identified as Intermediate level. The bigger issue, however, is that several sessions identified as Intermediate were definitely not. And, the titles of some sessions were misleading.

One session, billed as "using technology to solve research problems," was very disappointing. In my opinion, it was a basic beginners level overview of how to do your genealogy - the only "technology" mentioned was the use of the internet and genealogy software. In fact, the speaker, after polling the audience to determine our research level, stated that she expected more beginners to attend.

Some of the highlights... learning about the Genographic Project, picking up some ideas from Denise Olson on using Powerpoint (or other presentation software) to tell short family stories with pictures (photo above), and learning that Thomas W. Jones utilizes online family trees in his research process.

On that latter point, the Thomas Jones session "Can a Complex Research Problem Be Solved Solely Online?" was worth being stuffed into the smallest room available. The session was unlike any other I attended - an interactive experience with the audience responding to questions regarding resources that might be used and then learning from 'the master' what was actually used. Can you imagine getting an email from Tom Jones inquiring about the sources  for your online tree?

Will I attend RootsTech next year? Doubtful. But then, that's what I said last year! I think a better option for me is to watch the sessions that are live-streamed and archived for later viewing. Also, if they follow through on their plans to have 600+ locations holding sessions locally at the same time in conjunction with live-streaming - well, that would be awesome.

The downside of attending virtually, of course, is that you miss out on the interaction with other attendees and spending time with friends. But if RootsTech grows in attendance next year like it did this year, the current venue would be impossibly crowded...

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Thoughts on RootsTech," Kinexxions, posted March 26, 2013 (http://kinexxions.blogspot.com/2013/03/thoughts-on-rootstech.html : accessed [access date])


Carol said...

I am so glad you gave a review of your experience. I have been watching every day!

Taneya said...

Thanks for sharing Becky. I too am intrigued by the idea of them broadcasting to all the locations. Even if one was not present in SLC for it, there would undoubtedly be some opportunity for discussions and interactions with those that are around you. :-). Looking forward to seeing how RootsTech 2014 goes!

Becky Wiseman said...

Sorry to have kept you in suspense... hope it was worth waiting for!

Becky Wiseman said...

Thanks for commenting Taneya. I really like the idea of having other sites/locations for viewing the live-streamed sessions with other attendees. It's great to be able to view the streamed sessions at home but it would be better to be able to have conversations with others to discuss them afterwards.