Friday, October 22, 2010

FamilySearch Bloggers' Day, Part 2

See Part 1 here.

The meeting started at 8:00am. There were introductions of the FamilySearch (FS) staff and bloggers in attendance.

At 8:20 we got down to business:

Who is FamilySearch? How to think about us
Shipley Munson and Jay Verkler both talked at the beginning. It was difficult for me to hear who was who, so forgive me if  attribute info to the wrong name. An organization chart that showed the 5 main parts of FamilySearch was shown. At the top of the chart was the president of FamilySearch, Jay Verkler. The organizational pieces of FamilySearch are:

Product Management / Engineering
Information Services
Office of the Chief Genealogical Officer
Patron Services

The primary duties of each group were described. One thing I took away from this session is the genuine interest FamilySearch has in genealogy blogger input. I've heard FS staff say this a lot and I believe it.

RootsTech: A very different kind of genealogy conference
FamilySearch is promoting the heck out of the RootsTech conference, which will be held for the first time ever, in Salt Lake City in February 2011. There was lots of great discussion. I was so busy live-tweeting it that I forgot to write down notes for this blog post.

One important point was made though that may be of interest to you: RootsTech will not replace NGS GenTech. Apparently there was an errant press release or something that said that, but it's incorrect.

Here's what I took away from the session: RootsTech is a conference for tech developers and the genealogists who love them. The speaker (either Anne Roach or Ann Harrison) said there would be beginning tech classes at this event, but my gut tells me this event is for intermediate and advanced users. My gut also tells me that my blog readers know more about tech than they realize so don't write yourself off of this event. This is a chance for tech-loving genealogists to have an audience with those who make our tech toys.

Also during this session, I heard one of the speakers say RootsTech was open to the unconference concept, of which I am a huge proponent. Unconference = facilitated, participant-driven content. I never thought I'd hear the word uttered in the genealogy field (though it's been used for years in the library field).

This event looks promising. I hope it's a success.

Volunteer Indexing: Unlocking the world's records one name at a time
This session on FamilySearch Indexing was led by Jim Ericson. He provided a brief history of the organization and gave us the parameters of what's held in the Granite Mountain records vault, all of which adds up to about 3.5 billion pages of family records. More than 750 million of these are on the beta site.

Jim talked about partnering with societies and archives to digitize and index their holdings. He said ideal partner groups hold collections that are a priority to FamilySearch. These groups also have good foundations in volunteerism, publicity, etc.

There is also a dire need for indexing non-English records. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to know a foreign language to index in that language. FS provides tools, you just have to be willing to use them (like a good indexer should, I say).

What I took away from this session. There's a ton of stuff that needs indexing. I'm an indexer/arbitrator and I love it. Keeps me busy while watching tv, gets me access to more FS records and gave me a lesson in handwriting to boot.

On to part 3 here.

1 comment:

  1. You know, if there ever was a genealogy conference that was perfectly suited to the "unconference " concept, it's RootsTech. Technology is an area where a two-way conversation is especially critical to success. Developers need to hear from users, and vice versa.

    I'll be really thrilled and impressed if that becomes a reality.