Rootstech 2012

In the interest of publishing this while the conference is still going on, this post was written rather loosely and I haven’t included links. Perhaps at some point I will add the links, but if I don’t, please don’t hold it against me. This was the first full day of Rootstech conference in Salt Lake City, and I must say I’m having a great time.  Part of that is the people, of course.  I’ve run into a whole slew of CGS members from near and far and have been welcomed into a particularly fun sub-set of Geneabloggers, which has kept the off hours filled with great conversation.  Plus, being a geneablogger comes with an extra benefit at a conference, a set of deliciously gaudy beads that have been wonderful conversation starters with many other random folks in every class (except one). Yet, tech conferences are for tech, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the tech I’ve learned about throughout the day’s events, which can be divided into two basic catagories: the classes and the expo. The expo opened a little early, so while most were being wowed by the first keynote, I was sneaking in for some quiet time with the vendors, which is like gold as the rest of the day would prove.  Some conversations have mentioned a distinct lack of hardware in the expo and that’s true.  A few scanners are represented but otherwise, most vendors are organizational, like APG, or NGS.  The majority of the rest are software or websites.  The big names in Windows based database managers are there (no Mac vendors, like Synium or Leister productions were represented).  A fair number of online records or collaborative tree vendors had larger displays with computers available for taking their products for a ride. Some interesting helper applications were being displayed.  I’ll probably save some more in depth discussion of these till later. On the other side, there were classes. Rootstech has two basic tracks, User and Developer.  I started off in a User class but am sad to say, I wasn’t enjoying myself at all, so I left and sat in on a developer class discussing GedcomX.  It is Familysearch’s effort to build a brand new standard for file transfer to replace the “stale” gedcom.  I am particularly interested in this as a user, and speak developer talk more than the standard genealogist, so I felt right at home in this overview class, which was encouraging for the future. After a delicious lunch, I arrived back for a session of pure fun: Genealogy Idol 2012.  If you were paying attention to my overactive twitter feed, you’ll know that although he didn’t win, Michael Hait gave a very brief presentation that was inspiring to me.  He used MS Word autocomplete to build source citations with ease.  I don’t own MS Word, but being fresh from Macworld, I realized another tool I’ve had installed for six months and not used properly called TextExpander could easily be used the same way (in fact, if I understand it correctly, it should work in any application, not just MSWord). Next was developer time again, where I learned the basics of gamification theory.  Honestly, it’s like sausage.  You don’t want to know what goes into it — you just want to enjoy the results.  The speaker mentioned that the airlines, particularly American and United were the first to really develop the theories behind it, but it was obvious to me that the DAR has been doing the same basic thing for their entire existence.  As I looked down at my Geneablogger beads, I had to run away. Finally, I gave my last session of the day to my new role at the library and sat in an unconference session with Randy Whited of FGS on Umbrella State Organizations, though that may not be a perfect phrase to describe my fabulous society.  Still, it was great to hear some of the benefits and challenges that others face and start to connect with a different group of people, so I considered it a win.  Plus, as Amy Coffin noted, the room was air conditioned and for that I was thankful.