Friday, February 13, 2015

RootsTech and FGS2015 Opening Day

Thursday was the official opening day for the RootsTech and FGS2015 co-conferences. Yes, there are two conferences being held at the same time.

I was lucky enough to be invited to tour the exhibit hall before it opened. I noticed right away that vendor areas are significantly larger than last year.

There's even a playground. They have Centipede. I checked.

The Demo Theater is always my favorite place. This year it is larger with more couches!

After the hall tour, I got to go backstage. Here's a behind the scenes view:

Everyone loved keynote speaker Tan Le. She spoke from the heart and left not a dry eye in the house.

I had a very productive lunch with a friend. We are kicking around marketable ideas and planning world domination.

In the afternoon, I went to Judy Russell's class on federal records. It was exactly what I needed, as my felonious great-grandfather has done federal time. She clearly explained the court system and where I *should* be able to locate these records. As always, Russell was knowledgeable and funny.

I debated being anti-social for dinner, but then put the word out on Twitter. Within minutes I had a dinner date and great conversation at a local pub. Genealogical serendipity at its finest.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FamilySearch 2015 RootsTech Media Dinner

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a media dinner hosted by FamilySearch on the eve of the opening of RootsTech 2015.

This is always one of my favorite conference events because FamilySearch tells us the latest developments in their organization, and they do so in style:

Shipley Munson talked about the major points of RootsTech. He said there was a "conservative" estimate of 20,000 unique attendees, but if everyone shows up it will be closer to 30,000. People are coming from 49 states (no West Virginians in the house) and 35 countries, There will also be 200,000 viewers from around the world.

FamilySearch previewed several moving videos that will be presented during the conference. When one presentation ended, we found that we were part of it. We are the storytellers... and so are you.

New (or reinvented) this year is the Innovator Showdown, giving developers a chance to present their tech tools for a chance at a cash award. There are $25,000 in prizes, expanded sponsorship, and 51 entries whittled down to four finalists. The winner will be crowned during the conference. The whole competition has a Shark Tank feel to it.

One of the bigger takeaways from this event was the mention of the FamilySearch app gallery. You can see it at

The theme of this conference is "Who Inspires You?" I love this thought, because everyone can answer the question. It's not just for the crazy genealogists. We are all doing family history, most of us just don't realize it. FamilySearch is out to change that.

Thanks again to FamilySearch for including me in their media dinner.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Touring the FamilySearch Family Discovery Center

Today I had the pleasure of attending a VIP tour of the FamilySearch Family Discovery Center, that's set for a February 11, 2015 grand opening. 
The Family Discovery Center is in the FamilySearch corner of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. It is ready to welcome visitors, but it is also acting as a model for possible off-site future centers around the world.
The target audience is youth ages 12-18, with the hope that they will then attract their families as well.

The Family Discovery Center is organized into kiosks with different interactive family history activities. Visitors are given individual iPads to use during the tour. Those with FamilySearch accounts are asked to log in using their names and passwords. The result is a custom experience based on your family tree.
Here is where I learned about the meaning of my name. My maiden name is unique, so there wasn't any information (yet).

Many of the stations have futuristic looks to them, because that's what kids these days want and expect. Several stations had interactive touch screens, including this station that felt like time travel and taught about different eras in our ancestors' lives.

Below this world map display, you can see where I've docked my iPad. I don't have a large family tree at FamilySearch (yet) so I didn't get to fully participate in this station. Once the iPad is docked, information from your tree and ancestors' locations will come up on the map. You can use the touchscreen to zoom in or out and see the migration paths and birthplaces of ancestors.

There's even a station to record your own history. There are question prompts on the screen and a camera that records you telling your stories. At the end of the tour, visitors receive a recording from this station as well as photos and information from the others.

Station 5 has a Wii-style experience where you wave your hand to choose and take photos in various styles of dress. Here I am being a Chickasaw Princess:

Special thanks to FamilySearch for thinking I was a VI enough P for their VIP tour. See for more information on this innovative endeavor to get families interested in their own histories.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Removing the Dust Covers and Getting Ready for RootsTech / FGS2015

Hi there! Remember me?

So much has happened since we last spoke. It's been a rough few months on the home front. My husband unexpectedly walked out the door and then I was diagnosed with Graves disease.

This is not dirty laundry; it is family history. We don't always get to choose how the story goes.

So you see...I do have a pretty good excuse for not blogging.

But now it is time to blog again. I got my writing voice back. Just in time, too. RootsTech and FGS2015 are just around the corner. I'll be there with bells on and I want to experience it all.