Tag Archives: conferences

RootsTech 2012, Salt Lake City, Utah

RootsTech is the conference where family history and technology meet – so lots of stuff for genealogists and geeks alike.

No, I wasn’t able to attend RootsTech in person, but I did get to watch some of the presentations that were streamed live.  In fact, they’re being re-streamed over the next week, so there’s still a chance to check them out.  I loved being able to watch a presentation, and then follow the feedback on Twitter.  Over 90 geneabloggers were there in Salt Lake City, and it’s been fun reading about some of their experiences, either via Twitter or their blog posts.

The list of streamed presentations doesn’t appear to be on the site now, so here are the ones you can view at www.rootstech.org (currently showing as daily recaps, individual videos to come soon):

Thursday, 2 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Inventing the Future, as a Community Jay Verkler
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Do I Trust the Cloud? D. Joshua Taylor
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Effective Database Search Tactics Kory Meyerink
Presention for Intermediate Users: Twitter – It’s Not Just “What I Had For Breakfast” Thomas MacEntee
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Eleven Layers of Online Searches Barbara Renick
Friday, 3 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Exabyte Social Clouds and other Monstrosities Josh Coates
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Publish Your Genealogy Online Laura Prescott
Presentation for Intermediate Developers: Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines Robert Gardner
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Genealogists “Go Mobile” Sandra Crowley
Presentation for Intermediate Users: Google’s Toolbar and Genealogy David Barney
Saturday, 4 February
Session Speaker
Keynote: Making the most of technology to further the family history industry Tim Sullivan
Presentation for Beginner Users: Genealogy Podcasts and Blogs 101 Lisa Louise Cooke
Presentation for Beginner Users: Future of FamilySearch Family Tree Ron Tanner
Presentation for All Users: Privacy in a Collaborative Environment Noah Tutak

You can view the full conference schedule, plus check out any interesting individual sessions and see if they have a syllabus available to download – useful for links and tips, and main topics of the presentation.

I managed to catch most of the presentations and learnt something from each. Most enjoyable? Josh Coates and the zombies Cloud. Most useful? Quite a few, but the one that most interested me was Robert Gardner on how to optimise your genealogy website so that your content is properly indexed by search engines, and therefore found by users.

RootsTech 2013 is scheduled for 21 – 23 March next year.

Attendees reports:

Celebrating the Census at the National Archives, Kew

So much for getting back to blogging regularly, I keep getting distracted by other tasks.  One of the more pleasant ones was attending the Celebrating the Census conference at the National Archives on Saturday.

It was an all day event with two streams of presentations.  Of course, there’s always a session or two where I’m torn between two different lectures!

The ones I enjoyed the most were Sharon Hintze from Family  Search giving an entertaining overview of worldwide census returns, and Helen Kelly on Irish census returns and census substitutes that made me much more optimistic about finding my Irish folk. (And that the most important thing is not trying to trace your family back to the mists of time, but actually finding the place, the land where your ancestors trod.)

Dee Williams from ScotlandsPeople gave a great background of, and searching tips for, the Scottish censuses, and TNA’s Mark Pearsall highlighted their pre-1841 censuses and listings.  Humphrey Southall (University of Portsmouth) gave a geographer’s view of the censuses and showed us their wonderful website of historic geographical information, A Vision of Britain through Time: “A vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001. Including maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions.”  Go check it out.

One of the nice things about events like this, is that you get to meet like-minded people.   Thanks to everyone at TNA for a fantastic day!

SOG Centenary Conference, London

I spent the day up in London, attending the Society of Genealogists Centenary Conference, and had an illuminating day!

There were two streams of presentations, so you never know if you’ve picked the right one, but mostly I was very happy with the talks I heard.  First up was Dr Nick Barratt (of WDYTYA? fame) – fantastic speaker and a thought provoking topic – From Memory to Digital Record: Personal Heritage, Family History and Archives in the 21st Century.   Some of the issues he covered were the importance of local archives and how cutbacks are affecting opening hours and the threat of closure in some cases, the work being done in schools to make history personal and getting the kids excited about it, how WDYTYA really got people interested in genealogy (and the unrealistic expectations generated by the programme!), and preserving your own family archive for future generations.  There was a lot more he talked about, but these stood out for me.  One of the questions asked afterwards was:  where can you put family history information online, without having to build your own website?  According to Barratt, there are a couple of companies that are offering a service like this (and I didn’t catch the names).  But it’s still early days on that front – an interesting space to watch, I think.

The next presentation I saw was Dr Bruce Durie on The Future of Geneaology Education. He runs the postgrad Genealogical Studies programme at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.  Awesome speaker!  Fascinating talk  about genealogy both as an academic discipline and a profession.

At this point we had lunch – which was a rather underwhelming and disappointing affair consisting of sandwiches, a few crisps, and sliced fruit.

After lunch were presentations on parish registers, records pre 1700s, and census substitutes 1688-1837.  This last talk was given by Else Churchill, who I’ve heard speak before, and who is so easy to listen to.  I skipped the presentation on blogging and social networking, but hope to read the lecture notes on the SOG website when they’re made available.  (As I seemed to be one of the few attendees under 60, I was a bit concerned about the level the talk would be pitched at, though perhaps I shall be proven wrong!)

The final session was Juliet Nicolson discussing The Perfect Summer: Dancing into the Shadow in 1911, her book of the same name.  The talk was so good I just had to buy a (signed) copy of the book afterwards.

All in all it was an enjoyable day, though it would have been nice to have had some kind of open forum/discussion session, and other opportunities that would encourage discussion amongst fellow attendees.  And slightly better lunch options to keep us going till 6.30pm.

Catching Up

Well, I had meant to write a bit about Percy Luxton, my first cousin twice removed, who has featured now in not one, but two Wordless Wednesday posts.  Alas alack, I have been distracted this week by ITV’s Long Lost Family and BBC’s If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home, catching up on episodes I had missed.

And tomorrow I am off to the Society of Genealogists’ Centenary Conference in London, and looking forward to some interesting presentations.   Will report back on my experiences there as soon as I can!