Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why RootsTech is the Bees Knees

All the RootsTech recaps are done. I hope you liked my play-by-play action. There's just a little bit more to say about the event. Here are a few reasons why I enjoyed RootsTech and felt it stood out from other national events of similar size:

The conference and all the sessions looked forward.
No matter the topic, all sessions and speakers' messages had a common element. They all had vision and considered the future, even when talking about the past. This is the attitude I want in the events for which I pay to attend, and I will look for that element in future conferences.

The environment encouraged the use of electronics and social media tools.
I am SO OVER events that dictate what I can and can't use to take notes and push content. I really appreciated that the RootsTech crew wanted me to use my netbook and phone. I took notes. I communicated with others at home. I was happy. In the future, I will seek out events that desire and accept their attendees to learn in all different ways, including with electronic devices.

RootsTech planners explored other session formats including unconferencing and ample use of the panel format.
I've really come to enjoy panel discussions and group collaborations. Speakers and lectures are great, but I want to hear more information from more people. Other fields have been doing unconferencing for years. Kudos to RootsTech for introducing it to the genealogy world. I hope to attend more of these sessions at Rootstech 2.0 in 2012.

I felt like FamilySearch was genuinely happy to have me there.
FamilySearch staff were always available and ready to help me. They provided extensive information for me to post on my blog, and really sincerely wanted my feedback. I can't say that I've felt that way at most of the major genealogy events I've attended. In the future, I will gravitate toward events that have the same type of positive vibe that was generated at RootsTech.

There was a variety of keynote speakers.
Did you notice that some of the best information came from non-genealogy speakers? I must tip my hat to the RootsTech planners for casting a wider net and reeling in some of the bigger names in the information field. Jay Verkler understands that genealogy is a lane on the information highway. It's time to get moving in the same technological direction as the other fields on the road, and RootsTech exists to see that it happens.

The vibe had no right or wrong, but instead a common goal.
At RootsTech, there were no citation police, no technology police, no ad nauseam email discussions on the beating of dead horses. Rather, it was a joining together event to discuss what we do and see how we can do it better. I dig this groove and will be looking for other events that share the same philosophy.

Keep the rock music.
This is so silly, but I heard a handful of complaints from folks that didn't like the music used to introduce keynote speakers. Really? Really. That's your main complaint about the conference? So I feel I must counter the crankypants faction and say I hope they keep the music and play more of it.

These are my people.
I don't feel inclined to say ABC and XYZ conferences should be more like RootsTech. Every event has its own personality and customer base. That's what makes them special. What I learned last week however, was that I have a preference for events like this here RootsTech shin dig. In the future, this is where I and my genealogy dollars will be. If your family history event has the same forward-thinking vibe, then maybe I'll come to your party, too, or not. There's a lot of choices out there now.

RootsTech 2011 was a game changer, and I feel blessed to have a front-row seat. It's a great time to be a genealogist.


  1. I will be spending my conference dollars here as well Rock Star. If you can believe this, I attended a genealogy lecture recently on research where the internet and all those extremely productive resources were never mentioned. Not once in an entire day! -fM

  2. Thanks for the play by play. Even though I was there, there were so many other things I wish I could have soaked in. It is good to see other people's experiences and get to see other aspects of the conference. I could have done this for two weeks and not gotten enough. Your kind of people are mine too. It's so good to have people.

  3. RootsTech 2011 was the greatest. I got to fly to Texas and spend a week with my Grandson. Thanks FamilySearch, wish there was a RootsTech 2011 1/2 but really looking forward to RootsTech 2012. We had a great week together. Thanks, Grandpa

  4. I loved the rock music! It made everything seem so important and "happening"! And it was a very teeny tiny part of the entire experience anyway, why would anyone complain?

  5. Grandpa George, there's Jamboree in Burbank in June so add that to your calendar. Also, I'd like to go to something in September, but we can talk about that when you come back out.

  6. Genealogy Blogger, I have no idea why anyone would take the effort to complain about 3 seconds of music, but enough people did so I had to counter. I will never understand people. :-)

  7. Thanks Amy for all your posts. Wish I could have been there, but at least you were and all the other bloggers to report back.

  8. Love this. I agree on all points (especially the last one).

    I didn't even notice the music, but now that I know about it, I totally demand that they use Duran Duran songs from 1983-1986 or else I'm not coming. That's reasonable, right?

  9. I thought the music really brought things to LIFE! Nothing pumps people up like an exciting, upbeat, musical element. I applaud FamilySearch for ALL the wonderful elements woven into this conference. Your recap was outstanding, Amy!

  10. I only "attended" the streaming lectures, which were awesome, but I loved some of the music so much that I grabbed my phone and used SoundHound to identify and download one of the songs. I agree that Rootstech seemed to be a gathering of "my" people, and I hope to attend the next one

  11. Amy, your comments are so on track. We were twittering during the conference so you know that I am all about the convergence of the tech and genealogy worlds. I am trying to find ways to implement (and if possible, improve on) many of the coolest features of RootsTech. I wish we had the space of the Salt Plaza and I wish we had the financial and volunteer resources of FamilySearch. If wishes were fishes... Any way, look for Jamboree's own version of the best elements of RootsTech.

  12. Paula, just from a SCGS member standpoint, I was impressed that you were paying attention from home. SCGS is doing all the right things with the resources it has. I'll gladly spend my genealogy dollars on Jamboree 2011 and I'll discuss with you privately my experience with the gen society unconference and what I felt others were doing wrong. I can't wait to see you in Burbank!

  13. Agreed on all counts! I loved being surrounded by people who shared my interests, passions, and concerns. It was awesome. I wish there were more ways to meet/visit with people (hard in a lecture)--more dinner options? And more classes on blogging, and on copyright/intellectual property discussions, which came up in some of the lectures I attended. Plus more stuff for sale--I love finding great genealogy books and paraphernalia. Here's to 2012!

  14. this is good. My experience with genealogy conferences is 100% Jamboree. (woulda been rootstech but for this illness, igg. You may be as sick of reading this as I am sick of saying it. or sick period. feh.)

    My perspective (as I read recaps and "I found my tribe" exclamations --from you, cluewagon) is as someone who's attended a goodly number of tech conferences, and a few unconferences, too (shoutout to my local Barcamp!). My reaction to this is, "of course!" and "glad to see it here." Most of all, having been aware for some years now about (non genealogist) Brewster Kahle, when I saw that he was a keynote speaker, that told me, a person of tech, RootsTech is serious about addressing the tech side of things. Was a major factor in my decision to go (but for the illness, etc., etc.)


  15. Amy, I totally agree with you. This conference WAS the Bees Knees. I enjoyed it all and especially enjoyed how welcome we were made to feel. It was a great learning and networking environment. I wouldn't be surprised if the attendance grew even more next year.

    It was great to see you again.

  16. Rootstech was my first US genealogy conference and I was pleased I travelled all the way from Australia for the event.

    I loved the vibe, the hype, the bright lights,the music, the tech speakers and meeting so many cool genealogy mates.

    I thought Rootstech must have been a typical US genealogy conference. You have shattered my illusion!

  17. I watched some of the live videos and am thankful for those who make this technology available to those of us nor attending. And I loved the music too and feel that it created some excitement in the introduction of each speaker.

  18. Amy,

    Again, your comments are spot on! I thought the music added to the buzz and atmosphere - if that was all certain people could find to complain about that's pretty good (Did this one replace "the rooms were too cold?" complaints from other conferences?)

    I also agree that it was great how they encouraged the use of laptops, cell phones and social media.

    It was great hanging out with you - especially during the showing of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

  19. This is one of the best recaps that I have read. What a cool conference.