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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

RootsTech First Keynote Address - Jay Verkler

Jay Verkler is the outgoing CEO of FamilySearch and is being replaced by Dennis Brimhall. All of the FamilySearch employees and outstanding credentials. Jay is a charismatic presenter and is extremely knowledgeable about the technology which is the theme of this Conference.

As you can probably guess, I can't listen and type at the same time, but I will try to give you all a flavor of the presentation. By the way, this presentation is being carried live on the RootsTech website. They provide us Bloggers with a front row seat for the keynotes, so we can see what kind of makeup they use (just kidding). Even though I am deaf, I probably will have no problem hearing. It is quite loud.

The first speaker is David Bruburgger, Senior VP of Engineering who introduces Dennis Brimhall, the new CEO. He is new to genealogy but not new to leading large non-profits. Dennis Brimhall in turn introduces Jay Verkler. Jay Verkler, who has been CEO for the last ten years, was the one who moved FamilySearch into the technology world.

Jay reviews the experience of the Conference in 2011 when they had over 3000 in attendance. This year there are over 4300 registrations. He then takes a leap to talk about the future in 2060. Points from the talk including some of the new "buzz" words used:
  • 7 billion people online in 2060
  • Proportionally more people will be interested in genealogy
FamilySearch is working on a long range digital preservation location.
A Genealogical Conclusion: capturing who the person really is with all of the existing relationships.
One example is the Facebook Timeline view. (Facebook shows every post you have ever made chronologically).
Demonstration of a person page that is interactive and shows the details about an individual, packaging the important parts of a person's life.
What does it take to do this?
Community Framework for preserving and interchanging information
FamilySearch working on new GEDCOM, same standard, multiple uses
  • Interchanging between applications and between those records online API standard
  • Links and linked information
  • Embedded media
  • Clear model
  • RESTful interfaces
  • Extensible
  • Common types and sturctures
Transferring rich data structures to online family trees.

Jay introduces Robert Gardner and Dave Barney from Google. Yes, Google is here also. I notice they are using a MacBook Pro. Just a comment on technology. Dave talks about Genealogy Microdata Tags.
  • Microdata
Using historical data in a search engine. (looks like more things to write about). Uses a Chrome extension. Allowing a wide search for information about an individual in a data base like those on To share data across applications. More about Google.

Links will disappear. What changes need to be made? Permanent links? A solvable problem.

Need for "Authorities" which provide the rules for search engines to recognize records. Getting companies to use the same set of Authorities. More powerful search engines.


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