Although I’m not at #RootsTech this year, I’ve found this the easiest one yet to feel a part of from afar. The live streaming is better than ever, and the Twitter feeds I follow include dozens of people in attendance who are doing a great job with live updates and links to blog posts about the event.
On Thursday night, I found I had to tweet this:
I’m exhausted from #Rootstech and I’m not even there. It’s taking me hours to read all the tweets and blog posts about it.
— Louis Kessler (@louiskessler) February 5, 2016
At 26,000 attendees (I hear it might get up as high as 30,000), they’ve really upped their in-person attendance. Last year they reported 20,000. When I was last there in 2014, it was 13,000. Now it’s true that many of those are for the Saturday Family Discovery day, but none-the-less, the total number has doubled in 2 years. This event has definitely made it’s mark and become a significant annual event for genealogists and family historians.
A lot of people are not so high on the RootsTech’s emphasis on family stories, stating that this is not really genealogy. But I personally don’t mind this emphasis, since I agree that stories are very important and it could be a good way to get people interested in genealogy who otherwise would not be.
As a developer, I am very interested in the technical sessions. I was so pleased to see that in additional to the Innovator’s Summit the day before RootsTech, they have moved the annual BYU Family History Technology Workshop to the day before the Innovator’s Summit. They had what looked like a marvellous program for the day that was blogged about by James Tanner. I’ve met and conversed with many of these young technologists in web conversations and I’ll be looking forward to being able to go combine this event with a future RootsTech that I attend.
The Innovator’s Summit sounded interesting. There’s always a few sessions there I want to attend. But talking directly with other developers on that day is what I really enjoy, especially if it’s like the morning get-together we had for breakfast in 2014.
The “big” highlight for RootsTech seems to have become the Innovator Showdown. There were 46 applicants vying for $100,000 in cash and prizes. Some of tweets I was following by @TamuraJones was asking where the “innovation” in these apps are, and @susankitchens was trying to track down past finalists to see what happened to them. One of the most amusing and true tweets about the session with the finalists on stage being asked questions by the judges was:
— Christine McCloud (@geneapleau) February 5, 2016
I’ll be seeing Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, over the next few weeks. I was there to hear Judy as one of the keynotes at RootsTech 2014. This year, Judy was one of the judges for the Innovator Showdown and I’ll be very interested to hear her opinions about that event and about the software submitted. I had submitted Behold as an entrant in the 2012 contest, then called the Developer Challenge. I had some sour grapes about that back then. But it did allow me as a newbie at RootsTech to get on a panel and demo Behold and meet a lot of people and make a lot of friendships.
Thursday and Friday at RootsTech are always made up of too-many-sessions-you-want-to-see-that-you-can’t-because-they-are-all-at-the-same-time and too-many-vendors-in-the-exhibit-hall-to-see-because-there-just-isn’t-enough-time-available-in-two-days – but picking and choosing and doing the best you can is always great.
What I really enjoy is seeing people, especially technical people that I have previously met or corresponded with, follow on Twitter or Google Plus and talking with them. Next best, when not at RootsTech is to watch interviews, such as the “ambush cams” done by Dear Myrtle like his one with Tony Proctor or this interview by Jill Ball (Geniaus) with Judy Russell.
I’m writing this while watching the Saturday morning General Session live streamed. Saturday is always such a sad day at RootsTech because it is the last. Time to say goodbyes and try to pull yourself together and comprehend the enormity of the experience for the last few days.
Because of my preparations for the 10th Unlock the Past Cruise next week, I didn’t think it prudent to go to RootsTech this year. But counting on good luck and good planning, I’ve already etched February 8 to 11, 2017 into my calendar.
By the way, make a point to download any of the Syllabi you may want to now, because they usually get taken down shortly after RootsTech ends. There are no descriptions for them on the Syllabi page, so use the Session Guide to find the ones you may be interested in.