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Syllabi Before You Go - Thu, 26 Jan 2012

Whenever I go to a conference, I always first review the schedule and then make a tentative plan of what I’ll see. Then, often there is an added bonus, and just before the conference, a syllabus comes out with more detailed information about each session.

RootsTech did it right, and they have published an early syllabus covering most of the sessions. If you’re going, I highly recommend you download it (it’s a big file) and look through the papers. They’re in either PDF and/or Doc format. You’ll find some of the sessions you were planning to go to actually do look interesting, but others might not be quite what you were hoping for. Doing this advance screening, you can make adjustments to your plans, and make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. After all, when every time slot has 10 sessions competing for your interest, you don’t want to be exiting one after 10 minutes if it’s not interesting and scrambling around quickly to find an alternative, which you’ll have missed the first 10 minutes of.

Not only that, but by browsing the syllabus in advance, you will pre-familiarize yourself with the topic, and that may provide you with questions you’ll want answered, or even better, it may give you enough of a start on the topic that it might keep you from getting lost, especially if its quite technical. You’ll also be able to research in advance some of the items of interest that you read about.

So what did I find of interest as I went through the RootsTech Syllabi?

D. Joshua Taylor’s papers impress me. He seems to have some solid ideas. I do notice that he is pushing for new genealogical standards and says:

“Within the past several years, organizations and individuals have begun to accept the limitations of the GEDCOM standard in handling genealogical data. In addition to its age, the GEDCOM standard does provide adequate integration with digital images, particularly when handling online records and source citations. Organizations such as BetterGEDCOM have begun the process of refining the existing standard to meet current practice. However, there remains a large
gap between digital images used by genealogists and the data stored and collected by genealogists. This new standard should integrate with a GEDCOM-like schema on all levels.”

What I don’t understand is with all his interest and obvious expertise, why he never joined BetterGEDCOM. (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

Steve Morse’s papers such as his Phonetic matching might not tickle everyone’s fancy, but they are just what I was hoping for. I’m looking forward to hearing and meeting him, and I’ve scheduled two of his talks that are of most interest to me.

Although I’m not going to the Ancestry Insider’s talk, the paper on Internet Gems is chock full of statistics about online databases that any good numbers person would appreciate.

Some of the papers, such as the MyHeritage Family Graph API which I’m planning to go to, are worth a good study. This is one that I’ve printed out and will review in advance.

Of all the papers, the one I would give the award to, for both originality and making me think in new ways, is Ron Tanner’s “Report Card for the Genealogy Software Industry”. Hmmm. PAF only scored 0.4 out of 4 on this very interesting method of gauging the worth of genealogy software. Great ideas here that I’ll think about for Behold.

Going through the Syllabi is a great way to get familiar with the sessions in advance. I highly recommend you try it.

I’ll also be attending an unconferencing session on the newly created FHISO (Family History Information Standards Organization) which is the new organization that has BetterGEDCOM as its project. That will be Friday at 12 noon in Room 258.

And then Friday at 1 p.m., I’ll be giving some one-on-one demos of Behold in room 260A/B to the attendees of BYU’s Family History Technology Workshop that coincides with RootsTech.

During the conference, each evening, I’ll add a blog post about my day there.

I now have 3 users of Behold I plan to meet. Anyone else?

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