The final keynote speakers for the conference did not disappoint. David Pogue is the weekly technology columnist for The New York Times. He was an entertaining speaker, holding the audience captive. We are part of the app phone era, not so much the smart phone era. There are over 750,000 apps on the App Store. He then went on to inform and entertain, describing (and demonstrating) some apps including Ocarina which enables you to use your phone as a musical instrument.
The web 2.0 audience use tools such as Facebook, Craigslist, Wikipedia, Flickr, Youtube and more to create content.
The second keynote session featured My Heritage. Their vision is to bring family history to everyone. They are now the second largest genealogy company in the world, and it is certainly the place to be if you have Eastern European family history. Their smart match technology enables data submitted from researchers to be matched with other names in their database, enabling relatives to connect and family trees grow.
Following the keynote speakers, I was keen to meet Jill Ball aka Geniaus who had invited me to be interviewed in the media hub, as she is an official blogger for Rootstech. Our interview slot fell through but I enjoyed a quick informal catch up with her instead. Follow Jill’s genealogy blog at http://geniaus.blogspot.com
I was keen to learn what Find My Past was up to so attended their session “Findmypast’s successful search strategies” with Elaine Collins. They only entered the USA market a year ago, but are a major player in the industry with significant data online. Elaine’s tips were to choose a collection or data set to search in and to ignore the home page search box. A researcher needs to structure their search according to the dataset being searched, as some are unstructured data such as newspapers and directories or structured data such as census records. Another tip is to do a broad search rather than a specific search, remember the “less is more” approach. Search results can then be filtered. Take advantage of name variants and the options to search, which the site provides. FMP is now available as a world subscription.
After lunch I was inspired by “Authentically telling your story” with Stephanie Dibb Sorenson. Stephanie described some tools we can use to record life authentically whether by journaling, blogging (or scrapbooking) and to include the use of humour, gratitude and hope Using these tools to document our real lives for our descendants can inspire and teach them.
The last session inspired many people in the audience judging by the amount of questions directed to the speaker. “Interest in Pinterest for family history” with Valerie Elkins. It was a fun session aimed at those attendees who had subscribed to the Getting Started track. I am eager to become a Pinterest “pinja” using the site wisely to organize my bookmarks but also make them visually appealing. The site is about to undergo a major update so this is another one to add to my “to do” list, as although I have an account, I have not looked at it for a while.
During every spare moment of the conference, I covered the exhibitors expo hall as well. Some interesting vendors included EmiWeb and OCLC:
A web based Scandanavian portal for migration history. The site searches over 11 million records including passenger lists, church records, photos and letters from Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
A partner with FamilySearch, OCLC maintain the WorldCat database, which includes nearly 2 billion records.
Rootstech was an incredible conference and I was pleased to meet a number of people from around the world and Australia for the first time.