Monday, March 25, 2013

RootsTech 2014 Live Streaming Key Note Presentations

For my own benefit this is a quick review of what I learned and discovered watching the three keynote sessions. My next blog will be about the ten classes.

First I want to note the great emcee Shipley Munson. It felt almost like he was introducing a game show and he did a fine job covering the basics each day. As head of marketing for FamilySearch, one can feel the enthusiasm he has for the family history audience.

The first keynote was divided into three parts.
Dennis Brimhall CEO of FamilySearch shared some of his own family stories to kick off the theme for this conference - Find, Organize, Preserve and Share. He mentioned that only 10% of members of the church are involved in Family History. Then he stated that Unicef reports that for 40% of people there are no records of them. RootsTech attendance has grown by 50% each year. This year there were over 6,700 registered and 10,000 watching the live streaming. At the time of his talk all fifty states except Delaware were represented. He shared that sixteen locations were hosting Saturday viewings of many of the classes and next year they hope to expand that to 600 locations around the world.

Syd Lieberman is a fantastic storyteller. The stories are your memories, they tell you who you are. He said that families are the heart of stories, in which we capture life with the help of photographs. We need to remember our ancestors; they form the circle of our lives. There is a need to witness and rejoice in our family life.

D. Joshua Taylor works for FindMyPast and  is the essence of genealogy. We met in 2005 at the FGS Conference in SLC and I enjoy watching his growth in the field. He is energetic and full of youthful enthusiasm. With his family stories he shared his progression as a genealogist from a very young age to now. Three main points for knowledge are Learn from Mistakes, Learn from Successes and Share with Others. Today he is focused on Interactive Visual Education. It needs to be Easy, Accessible, Affordable and an Adventure. He considers public libraries to be one of the greatest resources and that they need to be open centers that are inviting. Global Family History responsibilities were listed as: Identification and Preservation; Digitization and Indexing; and Language and Local Expertise. Josh understands where the future genealogists are coming from and what will catch their attention. It needs to be accessible, engaging and personal. The possibilities are endless and they begin with all of us.

Day two there were to presenters.
Jyl Pattee, a professional storyteller, focused on capture the moments that take your breath away. Her main points were: Create a WOW moment, Capture the WOW, Archive the WOW, and Share the WOW. She also shared her grandmother's Banana Cookie recipe through a video of her family making the cookies in the family home. She has very innovative ideas for sharing family stories.

Tim Sullivan CEO of Ancestry shared how the company is growing and the challenges of meeting the needs of both beginners and experts. The company now includes,,, and He encouraged people with private trees to open them to the public so they can experience more collaboration. There is a need to interconnect within the genealogy community. The new subscribers are 50% using mobile technology; they are younger and are key to the future. This next year they will embark on a major project with familysearch in digitizing the U.S. Probate Collection, which includes 140 million images and indexes from 1890-1930 and some before.

Day three there were two presenters.
David Pogue is someone most of us will long remember. He discussed disruptive technologies focusing on some of the latest fun uses of hand held devices. The use of Facebook with one billion members, Craigslist, Flicker, Twitter, Wikipedia, and You Tube have changed the way our world functions. He was very funny and entertaining, especially as he shared two songs while playing the piano. If you did not see him and want some great entertainment be sure to look up the replay.

Then Ori Soen of Israel, and Chief of Marketing Officer for My Heritage, took the stage in place of Gilad Japhet the CEO. Gilad had to return to Israel for a death in his family. Ori introduced the second largest genealogy company in the world, which began at the home of the CEO. They have acquired FamilyLink (World Vital Records) and Geni. Today they have 75 million users. He shared a video about the company and then turned the stage over to James Tanner, a well-known genealogist and user of My Heritage. He feels the website is Magic, with using record matching and people matching, including people in European and Eastern countries. The key is worldwide innovation, collaboration and automation.

If you have not taken the opportunity to watch these presentations my hope is that you will do so in the near future. Some of them are more for entertainment, while gently guiding us to do a little more with our family histories. Others propel us into a future that will take patience, courage and open mindedness to the endless possibilities that await us as genealogists.

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