Rootstech 2013: Day 2

IMG_2354Following the success of the keynote addresses of  Day 1; first speaker up for Day 2, Jyl Pattee, did not dissappoint. Jyl is the is the founder of Mom It Forward Media, a digital agency and network of social media influencers.

She encouraged us all to document, perhaps not so much our family history but our life stories happening today.   Look for WOW moments – and they can happen in everyday life and in little moments such as a conversation with a loved relative. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take but by the moments that take our breath away.” What we do with the WOW moment is up to us – we need to create, capture, archive and share them.  The goal of create was explained with an example of Jyl’s parents’ desire to travel to all 50 US states.  She now has also accomplished that goal herself.  She has captured via social networks using Instagram and Facebook.  Archiving may include blogging or publishing. Sharing can be done via social media platforms, journaling or scrapbooking. For some additonal inspiration in capturing your family’s story, check out Jyl’s website for a free ebook.

Tim Sullivan, CEO of, was the follow up Keynote speaker.  He announced a new iPhone app coming soon and advised that 15% of new users to the site were actually coming in via the site.  He admitted that there were errors on family trees on the site but encouraged researchers to collaborate and share with other.  He would like to see more of this as a focus. Ancestry are trying to build a space for both beginners and experts.  They will continue to digitise content as much as possible and recently committed to $100 million towards this, working in partnership with FamilySearch.  Some projects will include the Morpeth roll from Ireland and USA probate documents and more.

Following the Keynote speakers it was straight into the speaker sessions and first up I chose to attend: Evaluating databases and overcoming their errors with Kory L Meyerink, who said early in the hour:  “What we do not know may hurt out genealogy”.  We need to fully understand the records of our ancestors.  In order to do this we need to evaluate the collections we are using, or planning on using.  For instance;  are we looking at an index or database? What is its purpose? Is it simply a pointer to the original source and actual information?  What is the origin of the data? Has it been converted from another format?  Is its status active or static? This talk featured the US Social Security Death Index as an example.

It is also important to read any “About” section of a collection, database (or website) that you are looking at (if it is available).  Read about a collection by reading reviews (genealogy bloggers do this well), ask other genealogists (great reason to join a society or library family history group), ask a librarian, or check the FamilySearch wiki or even clarify a query directly with the company.

After lunch I checked out If New FamilySearch is New. Why do we need FamilyTree? with Samantha Sulser

Family Tree is replacing FamilySearch.  The new website is a response to patron feedback; especially the inability to correct data errors easily and lack of meaningful sources to verify genealogical information. Some records are too large to combine creating potential ordinance duplication and the public did not have access.

Researchers are encouraged to contribute their data.

The next session was my favouite for the day: Turn Google street view into a time machine: HistoryPin and What was There.  Amy Johnson Crow’s passion was instant and this was an excellent presentation.  Historical photos never looked so good.  I knew of these sites before but had not caught up with the recent integration of the use of Google street view – where available if it fits your photo.  Once posted the fade tool reveals the past and present right before your eyes.  What a terrific way to introduce history to the perhaps the “less interested” members of your family.  Another one to add to my “to do” list when I get home.

Finally I attended a talk intended for the developer stream, but to which I had conference access. Although the second half of the talk was a bit techie, I found the first half most interesting.  Crowdsourcing when the power of many benefits all by Daniel Horowitz of My Heritage.  He described some general successful crowd sourcing projects such as the Lego Cuusoo Project, and some cool apps that advise people of heavy traffic conditions and more.  Genealogy wise,  FamilySearch are been very good at it for a while now, especially via their worldwide indexing project.  Last year’s project to index the 1940 US census was completed ahead of schedule.

Scripto is a free community open sourced transcription tool enabling transcriptions and translations.   (The website refers to a transcription project taking place at the Papers of the War Department)

Daniel also revealed that his own company, My Heritage, uses smart march technology whereby members are notified when data matches are made with other members family history data.

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About infolass

Local and Family History Librarian, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Melbourne, Australia
This entry was posted in Margery C Ramsay Scholarship, Salt Lake City and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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