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Friday, February 7, 2014

#RootsTech 2014 -- Keynotes and other notes

Note again, if some of the entries are not compete, think of them as key words to further searches

This is the 2nd day of RootsTech 2014 and my third day including the #InnovatorSummit. This is a measurably larger and more complicated event than those of the past years. Welcome by Shipley Munson and introduced by another very touching FamilySearch video. Now, Judy Russell. I was not familiar with Judy Russell, but after only a few minutes, I realized why she was giving the keynote for this conference. She is spell binding to genealogists.

Oral family history can be lot in three generations. Stories are not passed down in a deliberate way. Judy asks a series of questions about our ancestors and asked everyone to stand. Those who could not answer the questions had to sit down. They were specific questions about specific ancestors. Everyone (almost) was sitting by the end of the series of questions. The point is well taken, the detailed history of the past is very volatile and disappears in time. She talks about the crossing of the Delaware by the Revolutionary Army and the Battle of Trenton. Only one record was preserved of the ordinary soldier's loss of life. This is the only record, a pension record, of this one member of her family. This was the brother of her ancestor. The stories were passed down but only written down many years later. She relates how all of the traditions about George Washington and the Mayflower connection in her family were not true.

How do we accurately pass down information to our descendants? She talks about the Genealogical Proof Standard. I have written about this many times. See Genealogical Proof Standard. The stories passed down, we must verify and document and pass on to the generations that come after us. If we don't make the record, the stories will be lost in just three generations. Great presentation.

Ori Soen of MyHeritage. They add a million profiles every day to their website. He introduces Spencer Wells of the The Genographic Project. See National Geographic. He tells the story of his full name and how it was passed down from his ancestors. He became obsessed with ancient history by visiting the King Tut Exhibit in 1978. Ultimately, he got into genetics and began looking for the patterns in the human experience. Questions of origin. Did we all come from a common source? How did we come to occupy the entire world? Paleoanthropology. The question of origin is actually a question about genealogy. We are related through our common family tree. He speaks of mapping the details of the origin and pattern of settlement of the entire human population. He also relates this project to the linguistic diversity of Eastern Europe. This is a community based project to trace all of the connections and map them across the world. They also give your percentage of Neanderthal genes.

One point that came up in my meeting with Tim Sullivan, the CEO of, was the need to tie the genetic information to a meta-family tree (my term), that is a family tree that contains a representative combination of all of the existing individual family trees.

Spencer goes on to explain how the business of genographics works.

Shipley Munson back on stage to talk about the Developer's Contest Winners. Photo FaceMatch is 3rd, 2nd Place Find-A-Record, Grand Prize Winner is Saving Memories Forever. I will be writing in depth about each of these projects in the near future. I have had an opportunity to visit with each of these and they have fantastic stories to tell.

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