Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Best Seat in the RootsTech House

If you're looking for me at the vast RootsTech conference, chances are you can find me in the Demo Theater. This is the second year RootsTech has featured the Demo Theater. I like to call it "the best seat in the RootsTech house." Here's why:

The Demo Theater features rows of big couches and chairs arranged in a semi circle around a small stage with a podium and a screen. There are some overflow tables in the back. Those white boxes on the tables are chargers for your electronics. Nice.

Demo Theater sessions last 15 minutes long and feature vendors from the exhibit hall. The presentations run about 10-12 minutes with a few minutes for questions. Each session usually has a live demo of the product or at least a planned sales pitch.

Here is one about search techniques at

Presentations run back to back, so there are no gaps. There is an emcee to keep the conversation going as the vendors switch out. At the beginning of each session, a person comes around with a raffle ticket and a basket of chocolate. Please understand what I just said: someone brings you raffle tickets and chocolate every 15 minutes while you sit in a big comfy chair. And...the vendors come to you.

Now do you see why the Demo Theater is the best seat in the RootsTech house?

I will confess I've spent a great deal of time here during RootsTech. Here are some of the presentations I've seen:

Billion Graves: Billion Graves Basics
Pictureline: How to Digitize Your Photos
MyHeritage: Finding our Ancestors Among Billions of Names...
Treelines: Family Tree Management on
RootsPoint: Connecting Lives
FamilySearch: Effective Search Techniques on
findmypast: Discover Your Irish Roots with findmypast

So let me repeat this again: vendors come to you and show you how to use their products while a lady hands out raffle tickets and chocolate. This happens every 15 minutes while you sit in a big comfy chair.

I can't got any further without thanking Backblaze for sponsoring the Demo Theater. Not only did they sponsor it, but they were very active in running the show, answering questions and filling the gaps with conversation when the vendors switched out.

I'd really like to see something like the Demo Theater at more traditional genealogy conferences, but I'm doubtful that would happen as there aren't many big money sponsors and it's something new and different in a field that's slow to change.

For now, I'll continue to enjoy the features and knowledge that come out of Demo Theater. I learned a lot in that area at this conference and hope to do so again at RootsTech 2015.


  1. so the take away message is go to the demo theater to get chocolate brought to you while you rest in a big comfy chair. sweet! ha! :-)

  2. Thanks for sharing this piece of the conference, Amy. I've been attending those sessions streamed online and enjoying it very much. This scenario makes me want to attend in person even more!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Nancy. Next's year's RootsTech is combined with FGS 2015. Perhaps that's the incentive you need to attend. :)

  3. Amy, you wrote:
    "I'm doubtful that would happen as there aren't many big money sponsors and it's something new and different in a field that's slow to change..."

    Maybe it's a problem with sponsorship, certainly not a problem with "a field that's slow to change." Love to see something like this, but how many Convention and Conference Centers have the facilities to offer something like this? Many built in the 1970's and 1980's struggle to even provide the basic technology experience most conference attendees now expect, let alone plush seating and a theater experience. Jean Andrews

    1. Jean, the seating for the demo theater was probably funded by the sponsor. It is certainly something that can be moved into and out of any convention center regardless of when it was built. As for the tech capabilities, I've seen good wireless in both Prairie Capital Convention Center (FGS 2011) built in 1978 and the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center (FGS 2012) built in 1976. Any facility could offer something like this, and they do in other types of conventions.

      As for "a field that's slow to change," you and I are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Thank you for your input.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed the demo theatre presentations too - and the chocolate, raffle tickets and super comfy chairs. When I wasn't in a class or wandering the exhibit hall, I was in the demo theatre. Just not as much as you.