I think that one of the most interesting things about RootsTech is that it attracts a much wider participation than the usual genealogy conference. I really did get a chance to talk to a huge range of people with different interests and objectives. I would like to summarize some of the things I learned about that will have a significant impact on the technical side of genealogy and all other aspects of genealogy for some time to come,
These are not in any particular order and my comments are certainly not complete. I will try to focus on some of these items in future posts with more details and observations:
The Bloggers for RootsTech came from around the world. This was not necessarily a new development for RootsTech, but the participation of the Bloggers has matured. Three years ago at the original RootsTech 2011 Conference, the participation of the Bloggers was almost an innovation. But by 2013, they are an institution and the main method of reporting the events of the Conference. It is a privilege to participate with such an interesting, concerned and really kind group of very professional people who love genealogy and love to write.
This year, several presentations at RootsTech were streamed live to a wide international audience including the Keynote speakers. FamilySearch indicated that there may be a possibility that next year the broadcast could go to as many as 600 locations. Instead of have 7000 people attend the conference, we could have over 100,000. This is a major advance in the exposure of genealogy, serious genealogy, to many more people than have ever been able to attend such an event. Can you imagine it? However, I do believe that in the future, RootsTech, as a conference, will only survive if this is successful.
Some of the major genealogical companies used RootsTech 2013 to announce major upgrades to their products or introduce new products. This will certainly have the effect of attracting even more participation in conferences in the future.
The number of people involved in RootsTech 2013 is an indication that the ideas of conferences and seminars is changing. I heard that some of the complaints about RootsTech were that there were no "geographically" oriented classes, such as how to do research in Poland or whatever. I suggest that there is place for that type of class in conferences such as the BYU Genealogy Conference and others. The large format, large class type of presentations at RootsTech are more suited to the types of presentations that did occur. From my experience, it is pretty hard to carry on a question and answer type class with more than 20 people and get through a lesson plan. I think the genealogical world is moving towards a proliferation of small local or regional conferences and seminars, with a few very large national conferences every year. There is no doubt that, if it continues, RootsTech will be the largest and most influential of these conferences.
The format of the Conference has evolved and, as with any event, it is hard to predict which classes will attract people and which will not. But overall, I think the size of the event has improved the quality of the instruction and the focus of the classes. I was especially appreciative of the Unconferencing sessions and the smaller classes. These give those with very special interests and smaller audiences a chance to participate. As usual, there was far too little time to do everything, see everything or talk to everyone.