Wow, it was a great week at RootsTech last week. There were more than 4,500 attendees, making this the largest genealogical conference in the United States. There were more than 2,500 visitors to The Family History Library for the Friday night event. The Library was open late, until midnight, and at 11:00 there were still more than 500 patrons in the Library.
There was an excitement and an energy about the conference that was better than last year and different from any other genealogical conference. Whether in the exhibit hall, or attending one of the sessions I felt the electricity of the excitement at the conference.
Over the next few weeks I will write a little about what I learned and observed at RootsTech. This week I will focus on the Keynote by former FamilySearch CEO, Jay Verkler.
Verkler’s presentation (you can watch it for free online at RootsTech.org) focused on the future and was one of the best visions of the future of family history I have ever seen. He showed how family history might be done with adding evidence to pedigrees, sharing conclusions, and interacting with photos and other documents relating to the person. He also showed how family members who had never met, and were unaware of each other could collaborate together.
One of the most amusing moments of Jay’s talk was when he showed how an experience could begin on one website - findmypast.com, for instance and then continue on another, like Archives.com. He talked about how connections could be made in the experience between many sites to help find records and collaborate with other family members. It was visionary and compelling.
Verkler also talked about updating GEDCOM. GEDCOM is a technical format to exchange genealogical data, but it does not support many of the needed experiences for an Internet world. Verkler talked about how GEDCOM could be brought to bear to solve many of today’s data exchange issues.
Verkler invited individuals from Google to talk about how they had created a new tagging system for genealogical records that allowed them to be more easily found with a Google search. They demoed the new system with FamilySearch records.
If you have a moment, watch Verkler’s keynote address at RootsTech. It is the first presentation on the video labeled, “Thursday Recap” at RootsTech.org.