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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reflections on #RootsTech 2017

Elly Carter won in the holiday category with her spooky house. Carter’s cake was also the people’s choice winner, which was selected by RootsTech attendee. The prize was a Thermador range and dishwasher donated by Orson Gygi.

RootsTech 2017 ended with a cake contest and a concert by Vocal Point and Noteworthy from Brigham Young University. Unfortunately, by the time it ended, I had become quite ill with a bout of asthma. It may take a few days to recuperate. The weather was, for the most part, lovely except for one bout of rain and snow. But what about the Conference itself?

I reflected on the changes that have occurred over the years. The idea for a conference such as RootsTech grew from the original BYU Annual Computerized Genealogy Conference which began in 1998. Quoting from Wikipedia about the evolution of the conference:
Over the years, other events were organized to be held a day or two before this annual conference to take advantage of the attendance of exhibitors and developers from around the world. This included the Family History Technology Workshop[1] which displayed and discussed developments in technology for genealogists and the FamilySearch Developers Conference. In 2008, the LDS Church's Family History Department became co-sponsor of these events and the search began for a new venue. The 2010 National Genealogical Society Conference was scheduled to be held in Salt Lake City. With cooperation from the local Salt Lake City NGS sponsor, the Utah Genealogical Association, the Family History Technology Workshop, and the FamilySearch Developers Conference, the Computerized Genealogy Conference organizers met with NGS and proposed a combined NGS conference and Computerized Genealogy Conference, which was held in April 2010. The event was highly successful, and led to plans to move the Computerized Genealogy Conference to Salt Lake City for future events. The name of the conference was changed to RootsTech. [Notes and links included]
This is where I came on the scene. The first RootsTech Conference was held in February of 2011 and had an attendance of about 3000 people, many of whom were employees of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and given the day off to come to the Conference. I was given the opportunity to attend the first Conference and every subsequent conference as a blogger and a member of the "Media." I have attended all seven conferences.

The first few conferences were rather low-key events and the keynote speakers were predominantly the Directors or CEOs or other designated representatives of the prominent organizations. Over the years the Conference has become more eclectic with a decided shift towards popular entertainment and special events only loosely related to genealogy or technology. One comment that I heard is that perhaps there ought to be a "Family" oriented conference that included genealogy. My observation from the classes for the Innovators Summit was that they were are directed towards start-up business opportunities and financing rather than technology i.e. hardware, programming, and programs. 

I am sure we will see many more changes in the RootsTech Conference in the future. 

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