It is already day 3 of RootsTech. By the way I do realize I am a day ahead of the official day counter but I believe RootsTech actually started on Wednesday with the opening of the Expo Hall. How can the days seem so long but the event seems so short. I hope everyone has had an opportunity to see the sessions they wanted to see, listen to the main stage events, visit the Expo Hall, and meet with others attending RootsTech.Keynote speakers that shared their inspiring stories. I encourage you to spend some time listening to their stories on the RootsTech Main Stage.
Friday, February 26, 2021
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Day 2 of RootsTech is coming to an end. Today was a day of Discovery at RootsTech. I started out this morning working in The Family History Guide booth in the Expo Hall. The Expo Hall was a bit slow but we did get to talk to some people about what we do at The Family History Guide. I invite everyone to take some time over the next two days to visit the Expo Hall and chat with the people in the booth. We won't bite and we will be happy to have a conversation.
After that, I participated in two panel discussions and had a great time interacting with the participants. These programs are live and are not available after the conference.
We just finished up the Family History and Genealogy in K12 Classrooms discussion. Our panel talked about our experience using family history as a teaching tool. I came at the topic as a homeschool parent who used family history in my child's education. I am also the Education Director at The Family History Guide where we develop programs to teach a variety of age groups. And lastly, I am involved in the Indian River Genealogical Society's youth outreach program. The other panel members had their own experiences that they were able to discuss. Our goal was to begin the discussion and encourage the participants to think of ways they can incorporate family history in their programs.
Before that, I was the moderator for the Connecting Your Communities in the FamilySearch Family Tree panel. This panel discussed ways people interested in family history could work with their communities to encourage family history related projects. Some panelists discussed their experience working with African-American cemetery projects. Others talked about collecting various records and adding them to FamilySearch. We had a good discussion and started a new Facebook group to further this discussion after RootsTech.
Tomorrow at 3:00pm EST, I will be on a panel discussing Inspiring Children and Youth to Love Family History. This will be another great opportunity to interact with people at RootsTech.
I also discovered a new photo tool at MyHeritage. This tool is called Deep Nostalgia. It is able to animate your photos by moving the head, eyes and mouth in a fairly realistic way. Several of my Facebook friends have been trying it out. You can see an example of how this works in the video below. It's a little Harry Potteresque, don't you think?
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
After all the waiting, class preparation, session development, meetings, and everything else over the last couple months we are finally ready to start RootsTech Connect 2021. This was an incredible undertaking by the RootsTech team to get everything set up in such a short time and to help all of us with deadlines and questions to get to a point where this conference is today. And after all the work, we were able to experience the opening of the Expo Hall tonight and get ready for the first set of talks.
One of my favorite parts of RootsTech is talking to the innovators and exhibitors. This year there are 14 Innovators at RootsTech. Some of the innovators, such as Adobe and MyHeritage, are showing off their photo restoration and enhancement capabilities. Adobe has their Photoshop, Lightroom, and Spark software on display. While MyHeritage was showing off their colorization and photo enhancement tools that they introduced in 2020. MyHeritage has had over 30 million photos enhanced using these applications. Adobe and MyHeritage are on total opposite ends of the spectrum for photo restoration and enhancement. MyHeritage allows users to upload their photos to the website for free and does a quick enhancement with no user based controls. MyHeritage's products are impressive and easy to do. Adobe is a more complex process which may require the user to manipulate various controls to get a specific outcome. Of course the user has more control with the Adobe products. Also, Spark provides ways to share your family photos on the web or in social media.
Another area of RootsTech that I like is the Demo Theater. This is where sponsors and exhibitors talk about their new developments, helpful products, and many other topics.
For tonight, my favorite innovation is FamilySearch's demonstration of their computer assisted indexing which is designed to be able to read handwriting in multiple languages. I tried it out with a marriage record written in German. It was pretty good but still had some errors. Overall, I think it did well enough to get a good start on the translation considering the quality of the document it had to start with. You can see the demo of this technology in the RootsTech Sessions at Computer Assisted Indexing. Then you can go to the website and see how well it will transcribe your handwritten documents. Here is an example of what it did with my German marriage record. The colors indicate people, places, and events.
FamilySearch also provides a demonstration video that shows a more difficult example where the computer is able to recognize the handwriting and extract the information into a tree showing the relationships included in the document. You can view the video of this demonstration on their session page. I'm sorry about the poor quality screenshots but they are clipped from the YouTube video.
RootsTech starts today at 7:00pm eastern time when the Expo Hall opens but the website is live now for you to start exploring. What will you be doing for the next 72 hours? RootsTech is more than just viewing classes. RootsTech is also an opportunity to talk to the experts in the field and find friends and relatives. The number of registered attendees is now over 501,000 people from 226 countries and territories. So, how do you converse with all these people at RootsTech? If you are registered for RootsTech and have a FamilySearch account you can use all of the various the chat functions.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2021
1) Let's Do Good Together - I provided details about these sessions in my previous blog post. These are panel discussions which will be held on Zoom. The audience will be able to ask questions and the panel members may ask the audience questions. Some of these will have breakout rooms where you can talk to others about your ideas and get feedback or potentially find others with similar interests who can help you achieve your goals.
2) Expo Hall - Just like in past years, there are many genealogy related companies represented at RootsTech. You can visit their virtual booths, ask them questions, find conference related discounts, and attend various product demonstration in the Demo Theater. Representatives for the companies will be there to help answer your questions in real time.
3) Innovators Portal - The Innovators Portal can be found under the Menu icon in the upper right corner. This area is where you will find the latest innovations in family history and genealogy and will be able to talk to those who are developing these new tools. There are more than a dozen projects being demonstrated here including FamilySearch's computer aided indexing, photo restoration applications, 3D family trees, immersive media, and more. Each innovator has a video and a link to their products demonstration site for you to explore. Take some time to investigate these innovations and ask the developers questions.
4) DNA Basics Learning Center - This area is where you can ask basic questions about DNA, participate in live DNA classes, and participate in interactive learning activities. All of these classes will be available on demand following their live presentation but the interactive instruction will not be available afterward.
5) Chats - Each session will have an active chat room. You can join each room using the link on the session's page. This will allow you to chat with the presenter and with other attendees who have joined the chat room. Many presenters will have "office hours" where they will be available live to answer questions. They will also be checking in periodically to monitor the chat and respond to comments or questions. These chats will be deactivated at the end of the conference so if you want to keep something that was said, you will have to copy and paste it into your notes.
There are some "live" events that may be available on demand later in case you missed them during their scheduled time.
1) Live Sessions/Keynotes - There are live sessions scheduled throughout the day. You can find these live sessions by looking for the Calendar under the Menu icon. The lists for Main Stage and Sessions can be displayed for each day. Some of these sessions will be recorded and available later but a few may not be.
2) Church Leadership Sessions - Various leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be hosting live discussions or talks throughout the conference. For example, Elder and Sister Holland will provide the keynote for Family Discovery Day and Elders Bednar, Stevenson, and Renlund will provide Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction. Many other Church leaders will have pre-recorded messages available to watch.
I hope this list helps you create your conference schedule and make the most of your time. The conference is nearly 72 hours in length so make sure you include a few breaks for food, sleep and other necessary activities in your schedule. I will try to provide updates to my blog each day discussing what I did during the conference and hopefully providing additional tips for you to make the most of this event.
Monday, February 22, 2021
Can you believe that RootsTech Connect will be starting in just two days?! The Expo Hall will open at 7:00pm eastern time Wednesday and the first Keynote speaker will be Nick Vujicic at 11:00pm. He is an international motivational speaker and New York Times best selling author. Now that we are coming down to the final days before the conference starts, do you know what you will be doing? Does it seem overwhelming? Do you know the RootsTech survival strategies? If this all just seems to be too much to take in, may I suggest that you take some time to check out the Road to RootsTech video series or read some additional blogs on RootsTech to help you figure out what to do?
The Roads to RootsTech is a series of short videos from the crew at RootsTech and FamilySearch explaining what will be happening.
Road to RootsTech - Episode 1: What's New This Year (2:23) - This is the first video in the Road to RootsTech series. The video introduces you to what RootsTech will be about and information that will be covered in future Roads to RootsTech videos.
Road to RootsTech - Episode 2: Family Stories - Asia, Africa & Europe (4:15) - This video contains family history stories from FamilySearch team members in Hong Kong, Ghana and Ukraine. The stories are in their native language so you may need to use YouTube's translate function.
Road to RootsTech - Episode 3: Family Stories - North & Central America (4:40) - This episode focuses on the family history stories of two FamilySearch team members in the US and Mexico. The stories are in their native languages of English and Spanish.
Road to RootsTech - Episode 4: Connect, Social & Discovery (1:47) - This video talks about the ways you can interact with others during RootsTech. They discuss topics such as the chat function and the official RootsTech Facebook page.
Road to RootsTech - Episode 5: Classes, Keynotes & Expo Hall (1:44) - This video talks about how to find class sessions, keynote speakers and explore the Expo Hall.
Road to RootsTech - Episode 6: Get to Know the Emcees (4:04) - This video introduces you to the RootsTech emcees that you will see around the RootsTech Connect venue during the conference.
Road to RootsTech - Episode 7: A Virtual Survival Guide (4:53) - This video provides the tips you need to survive three days of RootsTech Connect. The video includes tips such as getting rest before the marathon viewing, get up and move around, be comfortable, familiarize yourself with the website, stay hydrated and have snacks available, and many more valuable ideas to make the conference enjoyable and inspirational.
Welcome to RootsTech Connect 2021! (3:06) - This video is a welcome to RootsTech Connect. They discuss the various parts of the website and give a quick tour of where to find various topics.
RootsTech 2021 Sneak Peak (52:00) - This video is an absolute necessity for anyone planning on attending RootsTech Connect. They talk about conference details and demonstrate various parts of the RootsTech Connect website. They answer viewer questions that may help you get ready for the conference.
Behind the Scenes with the RootsTech 2021 Conference (51:20) - This video covers some of the work that went into preparing the RootsTech Connect platform and how it was designed to improve the user experience. They walk through the website and explain where you will be able to find your events.
Where else can you find information about the RootsTech Connect conference?
ROOTSTECH & FAMILYSEARCH
One great place to find information about RootsTech Connect is the RootsTech Facebook page. Follow the page to keep up on the latest conference news, ask questions, and see what is going on.
The FamilySearch blog also has several stories about RootsTech that might be helpful.
There are many bloggers, besides myself, who are writing stories about RootsTech. You can follow them to get a first hand view of their experience and see what advice they have for you as you attend this incredible conference.
The Genea-Musings blog provides articles as well as a compilation of other blog articles about RootsTech. This is a great place to start to see who is writing about the event.
The Orthodox Genealogist, Dear Myrtle, Treasure Chest of Memories, KindredPast, Inspire Family History, The Genealogy Girl, Family History Hound, The Single Leaf, and Empty Branches on the Family Tree blogs, to name just a few, have already provided RootsTech related articles. I am sure that many more bloggers will start posting soon as we approach the start of the conference.
There will be many more sources of information about RootsTech Connect in the coming days so keep an eye out for it. We are here to help make this the most inspiring and educational experience possible.