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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#RootTech Ramp Up

My wife and I got busy recently in figuring out the logistics of traveling from Provo, Utah to Salt Lake City, Utah each day to attend the #RootsTech Conference from February 11th through the 14th. My participation starts off with the Innovators Summit on Wednesday, the 11th, and then continues with various meetings, luncheons and dinners on subsequent days until my presentation the last class hour on Saturday afternoon. My wife has some of her own meetings and dinners to attend also. We have considered staying somewhere in Salt Lake for the duration of the conference, but train fare on the FrontRunner train is only about $6 each round-trip for us seniors. I have attended three conferences now in Salt Lake in the past few weeks and ridden the train each time. I do have to get up early, but I am used to that.

The first RootsTech Conference was a completely different experience. I had no idea what to expect. FamilySearch was overly solicitous of us a Bloggers, probably because they were relying on us to get the word out about the Conference. We had tours, dinner, special considerations etc. With each succeeding conference, the amount of involvement and "hype" diminished. Mind you, I am not complaining. I think the fact that RootsTech has quickly evolved into a huge media-related event is an overall benefit for the genealogical community as a whole. During the succeeding conferences, my role as a "blogger" has changed considerably, from class presentations to participating as one of the keynote speakers. For me, the highlight of the conference has been and will be, the opportunity to talk to and mingle with people in the genealogical community from all over the world and especially for renewing acquaintanceships and friendships with bloggers, developers and others associated with the genealogical community. Every year, I have had some extraordinary experiences in talking to people at the conference. In fact, last year, except for the Innovators Summit, I attended very few classes, I was too busy writing and talking.

#RootsTech is marvelous opportunity for me to carry on my online conversation with the world with actual people in person instead of sitting at a computer most of the day and staring at the screen.

Through all of this, FamilySearch has been extremely supportive and friendly to boot. Whereas, at the beginning, bloggers were a big deal, today, we are merely one of hundreds of activities going on in a complex and highly organized production. I am honored that they have invited me to be an International Ambassador to the Conference. Maybe I can top my own record for the number of posts I put up online? That will be hard to do because I will be limited in not being able to use Voice Recognition software because of the ambient noise. Don't worry, you will probably hear from me all during the conference.

The number of famous keynote speakers and entertainers keeps growing. Here is a quote from the latest FamilySearch Blog post:
RootsTech 2015, already the largest family history conference in the world, is on track to surpass last year’s record of 13,000 attendees—more than 18,000 are expected this year with over 50,000 joining online. The success can be attributed to the growing popularity of family history with people of all ages and a star-studded lineup of speakers and entertainers who will share their personal family stories, including former First Lady Laura Bush, tech visionary Tan Le, and entertainer Donny Osmond. RootsTech is hosted by FamilySearch and held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 12–14. Go to to register or to see the full schedule of keynotes, performers, and speakers.
How can a mere blogger compete with that for attention? The newest addition to the line up is as follows:
Fanning the popularity of genealogy worldwide are technologies that connect and strengthen families through discovering and sharing their past. RootsTech also creates an environment for innovators and entrepreneurs developing new applications for family history to showcase their latest innovations. Technologist and entrepreneur Tan Le will help kick off RootsTech on Thursday, February 12, as she shares her personal heroic immigrant story as she fled Vietnam with her mother and sister at a very young age. 
The Vietnamese refugee was named Young Australian of the Year and recognized by Fast Company as one of the most influential women in technology and by Forbes as one of the 50 names you need to know. “I consider it a privilege any time I can share my experiences with others who have personal trials but desire to rise above them as my mother and grandmother inspired me to do,” Le said of her opportunity to speak at RootsTech 2015.
 The first year of RootsTech, the Conference got very little media attention outside of a few bloggers. Even the local newspapers and other media outlets virtually ignored the entire conference. Lately, however, the local news media has been running almost constant stories or ads for the event. I still find a lot of people here in Provo, just a few miles away from Salt Lake City, that have never heard of the event or have absolutely no interest, but I do not doubt that the numbers predicted above will very likely be understated.

As usual, the bloggers (read International Ambassadors) will be ensconced in the Media Hub at the center of the Exhibition Floor. Take some time to say hello if you see me and maybe we can talk for a minute.


  1. I'll see you there! Our website editors keep running into you, but they are too shy to introduce themselves. So we'll try to catch up with you somewhere those days at RootsTech 2015.

    1. Hmm. No one should worry about saying hello to me. I look forward to seeing you at RootsTech.

  2. Thanks for your post. I'm struggling with getting some details about the conference - like what time the doors will open, what the check-in process will be, etc.

    1. OK, those are issues. We finally found an overall schedule in the Mobile App. The schedule was a document called RootsTech Week at a Glance. That will help some.