Each year at Rootstech seems better than the last. How they will top this year’s I cannot imagine. ‘My favorite thing’ was the Rogers and Hammerstein musical evening with the Tabernacle Choir, narrated by Oscar’s grandson Andy Hammerstein, which included learning a bit about the history of that remarkable family.
Other high points for me were actor LeVar Burton’s keynote talk (found online by Roberta Estes – click here), DNA expert Cece Moore’s keynote talk, and numerous really great presentations.
I particularly enjoyed meeting in person many people that I only knew from emails or by reputation like Curtis Rogers of GEDmatch, Dr. Yaniv Erlich of DNA.land, Gilad Japhet of MyHeritage, David Nicholson of Living DNA, and Louis Kessler of Double Match Triangulator (DMT see below).
Another thing I really love at Rootstech is learning about the new products for genealogists, particularly those which compete in the innovator showdown.
I was really pleased to see a DNA tool make it to 3rd place, the Double Match Triangulator by Louis Kessler. This is a tool that lets you compare two match lists from family Tree DNA, giving you real triangulation. I mentioned it in my talk and will blog about it soon. A semi-finalist product that I found quite interesting, was the Cuzins android app which uses the familysearch world tree to show you how any two celebrities are related. Friends will be added soon.
News from the Genealogy Companies
There were many exciting announcements of new features from all the big companies which will provide material for several weeks of more detailed blog posts. Here is a quick list
Rootstech is over and I am exhausted. This year I was up early enough to go to the keynote sessions almost every morning. Wow! In a huge hall we saw great multimedia presentations over many screens while listening to a star speaker. I particularly loved Paula Madison and her Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem; so of course I bought the kindle version of the book. [update: the pictures are better in the physical versions but it is still a great read]
Perhaps it is because of my work with adoptees and DNA that I so appreciated her story, but more likely it was just that she was terrific and the tale was so well told. I also got to see the short form of her documentary at the media dinner, definitely worth seeing.
My other favorite keynote speaker was David Isay and his StoryCorps. His concept is to get two people in a booth, facilitate their conversation, and record the result for posterity. I think the story I liked best was the one where the boy with Asperger’s interviews his mother – Sarah and Joshua. But every snippet he played for us brought tears to my eyes, the wild grandad, my son the veteran, and the boy who became close to the mother of the boy from the rival gang that he had killed.
And of course it was great to see A.J.Jacobs again and hear a report on the Global Family Reunion.
Usually my favorite things at Rootstech are the exhibit hall, networking with fellow genetic genealogists, and learning a few new things. This year I have to add to that the sensational MyHeritage after party (click here for the slideshow over at Geneabloggers) and the Keynote sessions. [Addendum: The keynotes and other recorded sessions are available at the Rootstech video archive]
Rootstech was held in conjunction with the FGS conference and was bigger than ever. Something like 25,000 people. The Expo Hall was twice as large as last year and full of a wide variety of interesting genealogical products in addition to the big companies.
And there was the temptation of the Family History Library just a block away. Many like me came a day or two early in order to enjoy research time in the library. And yes I did a happy dance when I found my new 3rd cousin’s grandfather’s farm entry showing his mother was indeed the expected sister of my gg-grandfather.
Judy Russell did a really good blog post on all the DNA news at the conference. I am very excited that Family Search will be partnering with Family Tree DNA to link from the FS tree to DNA results from ftDNA. Initially this will only be for Y and mtDNA. Plus testers at Family Tree DNA will have an icon that will link to their tree at FamilySearch when there is one.
A few of the Rootstech talks are available as videos at this url: https://rootstech.org/video/4050134760001 – I particularly recommend geneablogger Thomas MacEntee‘s talk of about his genealogy tool box on that page.
Fellow San Diegan blogger Randy Seaver did a comprehensive listing of Rootstech blog posts Continue reading
Next week is Rootstech 2015! I can’t wait. I had such a great time last year. I met many of my facebook friends, fellow genetic genealogists, and genealogy bloggers in person and got to enjoy their talks.
I am pleased that this year I will be giving a talk, about the advantages of contributing your research to a one world tree. I will also compare the features of the big three, FamilySearch, GENI, and WIKItree. A topic that I blogged about last year.
Rootstech has a cool app for your Ipad, Iphone or Android which will track your schedule, your friends, and more. You can get it from the app or play store, just search for Rootstech 2015.
Congratulations to Linda Hall-Little who has won a free pass to RootsTech 2014 for her question for Spencer Wells, “What is the future of DNA in genealogy? – say 25 years from now….”
Linda is excited to be coming to the conference. She is also a family history blogger at http://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/ and “she enjoys helping friends and family get started with their genealogy.”
She lives in New Hampshire and has deep New England roots. I look forward to meeting her!