Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, February 5, 2016

#RootsTech 2016 My Experience So Far

In past years when I came to #RootsTech  I thought I was involved. Even when I helped out by giving one of the Keynote addresses and presented classes, I somehow found the time to write and walk around and chat with the vendors. For the past few years, any idea that I had that I would go to classes was a pipe dream. I never even looked at the class schedule. Well, this year I finally began to understand what busy means. Thursday afternoon, I lot most of my voice presenting a class for If you know me, that is extremely rare. The genealogical community has really zoomed past the era when it was a bunch of old guys researching their ancestors. If I thought that I had a lot going on before, I was mistaken.

The interesting part of this whole experience is that it will not end when I drive back to Provo on Saturday. I am already scheduled at the BYU Family History Library to present a webinar on Monday. Maybe, by next week, I will be able to sort out part of the information I have absorbed so far.

Just one example of the changes that are coming. Dick Eastman in his blog broke the news yesterday that has announced the Largest Online Collection of U.S. Marriages from 1650-2010. In conjunction with, the database contains more than 150 million records and 450 million names.

One of my observations is that the companies competing in this year's Innovator Summit are vastly different than they were just a few years ago. When I was participating as a judge for the event, the programs were mostly proposals with a few lines of code. The programs entering this year were all full-blown, already actively online companies with a user base. The competition was high level and fierce.

Brigham Young University, in contrast to past years, has a huge consolidated booth with many of the different departments represented.

The Exhibit floor is not just bigger, it is almost overwhelming and the number of people I can talk to and who talk to me has exploded. I literally did not stop talking yesterday, except for when I was listening the entire day.

I hope that those who are coming to RootsTech 2016 feel the difference. The level of involvement and the content of the classes and the other events may be overwhelming but it is promising to shift the entire community into a much higher gear. has done an excellent job, despite the difficulty of managing these diverse interests, in pulling of a great Conference. We are all wondering what will happen tomorrow when many more thousands of people show up.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#RootsTech 2016 Innovator Summit Keynote Ken Krogue

Ken Krogue, Founder and President of, speaks in the keynote session of the 2016 Innovator Summit.

2016 Innovator Summit Keynote: Ken Krogue

#RootsTech 2016 -- Keynote Speakers


Here is the keynote address from FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood and below, the amazing keynote by Paula Madsen.

#RootsTech 2016 Day Three (for me) Checking in and tying to keep up

This is first real #RootsTech day after the BYU Family History Technology Workshop and the Innovator Summit. I have just barely had time to open my computer for the first time and my window of availability is very small. Here are some impressions so far.

  • The keynote addresses and the Intros were exceptionally good. You should be able to view these on I was very impressed to see Stan Ellsworth from BYUtv"s American Ride come in riding his Harley.
  • I enjoyed the presentation from Randy Seaver and Daniel Martinez at the luncheon. I do not have time to relate even a small part of the amount of information I have heard in the last day alone. 
  • I have a number of long talks with some of the vendors and I have a lot to say in the future. I know this doesn't sound like a lot of info, but believe me, by the time I get through writing you will be amazed. I also have to wait until the actual announcements come later in the Conference. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#RootsTech 2016 -- Innovator Summit Finalists Announced

The finalists for the #RootsTech 2016 Innovator Summit were announced. This is the list of six finalists for Innovator Showdown on Friday.

#RootsTech 2016 -- Tough challenges which need automated solutions

Session taught by Diane Loosle, Senior Vice President of Patron Services at FamilySearch, Director of the Family History Library and both a certified and accredited genealogist and David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA, employed as the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch. A professional genealogist since 1977, he is an Accredited Genealogist CM with ICAPGen SM in Ireland research and a Certified Genealogist SM with the Board for Certification of Genealogists®. He is a past-president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

The Innovator Summit is an opportunity to listen to subjects that are not usually discussed in genealogy conferences and certainly not the subject of much discussion among entry-level genealogists. It is also a small window into a world that most of us rarely have contact with who are neither software developers or work for large genealogy companies. The rooms at the Salt Palace are set up for the huge classes planned for the #RootsTech portion of the conferences and it makes it look like the attendance is very light. In reality, it is the segment of the market that is small and the classes are a good representation of the interest.

The purpose of the presentation is to advance the issues that need to be resolved though innovations in family history.

First is the need to have a word space between the raw data and the conclusions. We need a work space that is apart from the Family Tree. Some use spreadsheets. I use both spread sheets and Google Docs documents to hold information while it is being evaluated. We need tools that can help in this situation to narrow the possible related individuals in a record such as a census.

There should be lists of name variants used in a search. As we search records, there may be discrepancies. Our analysis consists of comparing several records of different types that may resolve the inconsistent or incomplete data. This comparison process is labor intensive and could partially be assisted by software that would provide a structure for making these types of comparisons.

Example of comparing census records for various years by extracting similar surnames from the same area to determine relatives. This is an example of moving beyond simply looking at the data and analyzing it for patterns. Computers do well with patterns and so this process should be amenable to computer analysis.

#RootsTech 2016 -- Innovators Summit Keynote now on YouTube

Here is the Innovator Summit Keynote. Really quick response.