Monday, February 14, 2011

2011 RootsTech Update 5

After the opening keynote of RootsTech, I was kind of swoony because this conference felt different, like the library conferences I used to attend.

I went to the media area to process the information and meet the other official bloggers. The area included two tables with outlets and internet access. In the middle was a soundproof booth for conducting recorded interviews with the big names at the conference. There was also a chair and table area for less formal interviews. 

Here is a blurry picture of said area with Joan Miller of Luxegen and Jill Ball of Geniaus interviewing FamilySearch's Jay Verkler:

The first session I went to was a panel discussion about the best use of mobile devices for genealogy. I happily waited for the presentation to begin, checking Twitter on my phone. 10 minutes later, I realized that there were no panel members. No sooner did I make a mental timer for leaving that a member of the audience stood up and proceeded to lead a discussion of the crowd. That woman was Barbara Renick, and she took the reins in an awesome way. We, the audience, went around the room and mentioned what type(s) of mobile devices we had and our favorite apps. This lemons from lemonade moment was great, and I learned a lot. I don't want to complain about the lack of speakers, because these things happen when you plan a conference. What I do want to comment on was how this crowd handled the situation: we put our heads together and collaborated to make a worthwhile experience. At other genealogy conferences, what would happen if a speaker didn't show up? I don't think a session would come of it. That's why I appreciated RootsTech's differences.

After this session, I visited some exhibitors in the Community Zone.

In the afternoon, I attended a panel on self-publishing. It was moderated by Thomas MacEntee and featured authors of several family history books. This was a great session. Thomas is a gifted moderator and he kept the conversation on track. The advice was practical and honest. I learned a lot from this session, but moreover I really appreciated that RootsTech utilized the panel-style format so much at this event. It's one of my favorite ways to learn.

The brightsolid sponsored evening event at the planetarium was nice, but I grew tired very quickly. I left early and ordered room service from my hotel. I went to bed early in anticipation of a second whirlwind day of RootsTech.


  1. Pleased you posted a pic of me that shows my best side (the back of my head) :-))

    Have to agree about the presenterless session
    although I think the facilitator was a little biased towards Apple products she did a reat job.

    The night at the planetarium was a bit of a fizzer for me - I went there and back within the hour.

  2. That Barbara Renick moment was amazing. It perfectly captured the different vibe at this conference.

    It's worth noting, too, that Barbara has been on the more traditional conference circuit for years. It goes to show that the forward-moving folks have been out there for just took a while for a forum to appear where they could really shine.

  3. I enjoyed the IMAX show at the Planetarium. Unfortunately we lost you in the crowd walking over there. We came back to the hotel and ordered a burger later as we were starving. The brownies at the planetarium were good though.

    Thanks for the stealth picture of Jill and I looking like earnest interviewers.

    I must get a blog post of that interview up before the next Rootstech comes around :)

    As you can see I'm still catching up on my blog reading!