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

Friday, February 11, 2011

RootsTech -- The Blind Men and the Elephant

Dick Eastman related a short incident that helps to sum up the reason for RootsTech and reflects on the whole impact of technology on genealogy. Speaking at a session called "Is the future of genealogy in the Cloud, on your phone or on the Desktop?" Dick said that for over 20 years he had a set of four good-sized books on his shelf in his personal library. Meanwhile, doing his family genealogy research he had one crucial question that remained unanswered. Eventually, the four books on his shelf were digitized. When he got access to the digital copies, he did a search and within seconds found the information that had been missing for all those years while all the time the answer was sitting in the four books on his shelf.

We have all been like the blind men and the elephant. Trying to define our genealogy with extremely limited information. At RootsTech we are celebrating taking off the blinders. For the first time in history, much of the information that has been locked up in the record repositories of the world is being made available to everyone, instantly and in a form that can be examined without destroying the original records. As I see it, the purpose of RootsTech is to open the dialogue between all of the disparate segments of the genealogical community and build the relationships that can begin to take the blinders off of the rest of the men examining the elephant. Empowering us to see what has been around us for our whole lives, but locked away, like Dick's books, because there were no adequate tools to find what we were looking for.

Those of us, as genealogists, that continue to ignore the "technology" component of the research are still blind. Come to RootsTech and begin to see. If you can't or haven't come to RootsTech this year, begin planning for next year. It is not that any one conference or class or program will change your heart and mind. But coming and seeing the energy, the interest and hearing the fabulous things that are changing our research world will be a life enhancing and maybe a life changing experience. This RootsTech is no ordinary conference. It is THE CONFERENCE with capital letters.


  1. YES. You've exactly summed up how I feel. You can really feel the ground shifting beneath your feet here.

  2. RootsTech is the gathering of the "movers" and "shakers" in family history. It's time we all take the blinders off--and this conference was definitely leading the way. Thanks for the great coverage!