20    Feb 20110 comments

RootsTech 2011: Fabulous first

This was the first year for RootsTech, a new technology and genealogy conference sponsored by FamilySearch.org, attended by some 3,000 people.

The Salt Lake City, Utah-event was described by some as "a candy store" for genealogists, genealogy bloggers and technology creators, developers and suppliers.

As it brought together technology people and consumers of family history products, it also provided opportunities for genealogy bloggers to  meet face-to-face with the movers and shakers.

Each day featured excellent presentations on many topics by well-known speakers. To see the speaker line-up, click here.

With so many exciting talks by industry leaders and speakers, it was hard to plan our days. MyHeritage Chief Genealogist Daniel Horowitz and I staffed the MyHeritage booth and were also scheduled speakers.

We enjoyed explaining MyHeritage.com's innovative features to the booth's visitors. Many were already happy Family Tree Builder users who just stopped by to say hello, while many newcomers received software CDs and additional information.

Visitors enjoyed seeing the memory game. One older couple said that their daughter had given them the cards featuring all their many grandchildren and their birthdays. It seemed the couple had so many grandchildren that they couldn't remember all the birthdays, and the cards helped them to do that.

There were so many concurrent activities that I asked Steve Morse of One-Step Pages fame when he would write a tool to enable busy people to be in two places at once. He smiled and said that would need to be a Two-Step page.

There were special events for the genealogy bloggers which allowed us to meet with organizers, take a field trip, enjoy an elegant dinner and keynote breakfasts. A centrally located Media Hub offered bloggers internet connections and interview booths (audio and video), located in the center of all the action.

An interesting feature was the Microsoft Playground, stocked with Wii screens, billiards, ping pong, and even offering back massages. It was packed every day. Comfortable couches were part of the decor, so tired conference-goers could take well-deserved rests.

Of course, Salt Lake City is also home to the Family History Library. I received a personal tour (see separate post) with good friend Todd Knowles, a British history consultant for the FHL.

Athough I have done research at the FHL many times over the years - and missed a few planes when making unexpected discoveries - this year was a bit different as so many of my geneablogger colleagues were also there.

On Friday night, a live screening of the NBC television series, "Who Do You Think You Are?" - featuring country singer Tim McGraw - took place on the main floor of the library, which stayed open very late for conference visitors.

We are already planning our talks for the 2012 event!

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