18 January 2014

RootsTech 2014

I have registered for this years RootsTech conference which will be held February 6­–8, 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have been reading about the conference for a few years and I decided that I wanted my registration fee to be my big Christmas present this year. I received an email from RootTech, because I am registered as a Family history consultant, so my registration fee was at a discounted rate.


For the last several years I have attended the Ogden Family History Conference at Weber State University. The conference sponsored by the Ogden Family History Center and is free to attend. I have learned a lot of useful information and I am grateful for the conference and the patience of the teachers. They have classes for many different levels of expertise from beginner to advanced. I am by no means an expert but it seems like I end up in classes where people are more concerned with learning how to use the Internet or they are not exposed to any Internet based resources. I am by no means the youngest person to attend these conferences but I am pretty sure I am on the young end. It seems like the technology learning curve is a hurdle that many of the teachers have to work around. I have had to be very careful to choose classes that will present information to me at an intermediate genealogy level and an expert computer level or I feel like the class is a review of what I already know.

RootsTech seems to present the opposite problem for me. With technology as the focus of this conference I am not sure what level of classes I should be taking. This year will be a trial of some sorts while I figure out where my skill level compares to others at this conference.

I found myself eliminating classes base on certain criteria to help me narrow down my choices. I thought I would try and explain my decision making process.

  1. I will not attend any classes for resources that I am already familiar with. I don't lessons about Family Tree, Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com, Photoshop, Dropbox, FindAGrave.com or Legacy because I use them every day.
  2. I will not attend classes for resources I have chosen not to use at this point. I am currently not interested in using Scriver, Youtube, Twitter, SmartArt, FindMyPast, MyHeritage.com, Flipboard, or Mac based products.
  3. I will not attend classes based on presenting my research. I feel like I am still in the discovery phase so I don't believe I am ready for those classes yet either.
  4. I will not attend any classes associated with DNA. I have nothing against DNA research for genealogy but I am still hunting and gathering. I will get there someday but I am not ready now.
  5. Ironically, I will not attend any classes focused on the LDS Church Member. I am not ashamed to be a member of the LDS Church, but I feel my skill level is above these classes. 
  6. I will not attend any classes focus on areas that my research has not taken me yet. I currently do not have a need to study Jewish or African research materials and Spanish speaking classes or foreign language records 
Even with this list There are so many choices that I hope I have made the right decision. Below is the schedule I have worked out. When I have attend the Ogden Family History Conference, I have switched classes based on teachers and such. I think I may use this same strategy for RootsTech. I will be a little flexible, I view this schedule as tentative.  Only one of these classes is advanced several are beginner or all access and a couple are intermediate. I don't think they fill up but the website suggested building a schedule with the app to reserve your spot.

(I am not planning on attending any of the classes on Wednesday. They are focused on developers and I am not sure they are for me.)

Thursday, Feb 6
8:30 - Keynote - Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman
10:30 - Ballroom B - Can a Complex Research Problem be Solved Solely Online? - Advanced
11:30 - LUNCH
1:00 - Ballroom E - Accessing Land Records using new technology - Beginner
2:30 - Ballroom C - Common Surnames: finding your Smiths - Intermediate
4:00 - RM 251A - Deciphering Old Handwriting Online: Introducing BYU’s Enhanced Paleography Website - Intermediate

Friday, Feb 7
8:30 - Keynote - Judy Russell and Dr. Spencer Wells
10:30 - Ballroom F - Will your Family History Have Lasting Value? - Advanced
11:30 - LUNCH
1:00 - RM 251D - How the Internet Makes Us Sloppy Genealogists and How to Thwart the Trend - Advanced
2:30 - Ballroom G - Strategic Planning for Your Genealogy - All Skill
4:00 - Hall D - Basic Online Resources for the Beginning Genealogist - Beginner

Saturday, Feb 8
8:30 - Keynote - Todd Hansen and Stephanie Nielsen
10:30 - Ballroom A - Applying Technology to Each Step of the Genealogist's Research Cycle - Beginner
11:30 - LUNCH
1:00 - Ballroom D - Your Portable, Sortable Research Log
2:30 - RM 250DE - Presenting and Preserving Family History:
4:00 - Ballroom B - Big Sites, Little Sites - All Online

I also registered for the opening social and the late night at the Family History Library. I don't know if I am going to attend them but they were free and I wanted to keep the option, especially the evening at the library.

I have several alternate classes I think I may pop into if the original class I picked doesn't work out:

Game-Changing Trends in Simplifying Research Tools for the Masses - Thursday, 2:30 PM
Doing Time­ Prison Records as Genealogy Resources - Thursday, 2:30 PM
Using Tools and Organization for Creating a Valuable Family History Blog - Thursday, 4:00 PM
Cartography for Genealogists: Digitally Mapping Time and Generations - Friday, 1:00 PM