Reviewing RootsTech 2015: The highlights


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As I sit in the lounge at LA Brisbane airport waiting for the Qantas “bus”, it seems quite surreal to think of all that has happened in the short space of a week. Let me see if I can capture the highlights for you.

MOST EMOTIONAL

Hands down this was the keynote by Vietnamese-Aussie expat, Tan Le, a former Young Australian of the Year. Her speech was a testament to the resilience and courage of her family. She spoke so evocatively of her life’s transitions and challenges and the strength and influence of family. It was also a powerful testimony to the value our refugees have brought to Australia. Her talk should be compulsory viewing in schools (and parliaments!) around the country.The live stream is here now.  You can now click here for an extract.

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On a personal note it was such a privilege to be part of her official photograph with the bloggers and ambassadors. I think she was pretty pleased to see some among Aussies among the crowd.

BIGGER THAN TEXAS

I enjoyed meeting up with Hope from StoryWorth as we'd been in touch before the conference. StoryWorth won the Innovation Challenge at RootsTech, and that's a big cheque you see behind us.

I enjoyed meeting up with Hope from StoryWorth as we’d been in touch before the conference. StoryWorth won the Innovation Challenge at RootsTech, and that’s a big cheque you see behind us.

Being a blogger as RootsTech is such a treat…we had a couple of great opportunities. One of them was being given a back-stage tour of the Expo Hall on the Opening Day, before it was open to the public. It was fantastic to have the chance to get your bearings before the cross arrived. A comment was made that RootsTech should be RootsTexas as it was now bigger even than Texas!

Imagine a conference where on one day there’s 20,000 attendees! That was the final day, family day, when the place was huge! It was also the only day I felt somewhat overwhelmed by the crowds….after all that’s about 20% of Darwin’s population in one place!

BUCKET LIST TICK

DSC_2781I guess every genealogist has a visit to the Salt Lake Family History Library on their bucket list, so it felt quite an achievement to get there. Despite spending two full days there and playing hooky from Saturday’s keynote (which I’m told was excellent) I didn’t get beyond the British floor B2. It was wonderful to be able to work through  the books I had on my list and see what I might have missed.

LOTS OF LEARNING

I made a deliberate choice to prioritise genetic genealogy talks and I now feel that I’m more confident in my understanding than I was before. Whether that holds true when I get immersed in my results remains to be seen. My commitment was demonstrated by buying an Ancestry DNA kit rather than a rather nice coat that caught my eye at Macy’s. It was a lot easier to do the test in the States and MAY give me different matches than I’ve got from my Family Tree DNA tests.

I was impressed by the professionalism, skill and knowledge of all the speakers…they were all in the 4 or 5 star range with one exception.

GENEABLOGGERS and TECH

We bloggers are so much part of each other’s genealogy lives it was surprising to see how small a drop we were in the ocean of attendees at the combined FGS RootsTech conference. However it was a quick point of connection as we recognised people from our virtual worlds. Thanks to DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ we were all bedecked in red and white beads which made recognition easier. Not to mention that the one and only Thomas MacEntee who bedecked us all with an array of ribbons.

Not all the Geneabloggers at RootsTech but a representative sample with keynote speaker . Not sure who took the photo, but thank you!

Not all the Geneabloggers at RootsTech but a representative sample with keynote speaker AJ Jacobs (on the right) . Not sure who took the photo, but thank you! As far as I know we gave each other permission to use photos at will.

Thanks to the wizardry of the RootsTech app it was easy to compare presentations and speakers – though a lot harder to get down to just one choice per session. I was annoyed that I dropped the ball with one session thinking it started on the hour, not the half hour. I used the app comprehensively to locate vendors, choose talks, and assess each talk.

INTERVIEW NEWBIE

It was a whole new experience to be in the media den, being interviewed by Jill Ball aka GeniAus along with Hilary from the UK and Tas from Sydney.

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Thanks Sharn for being out photographer outside the glass room.

Straight after that Jill and I interviewed Josh Taylor who will be speaking at Congress 2015 in Canberra. We’ll let you know when the link is online.

I really admire Jill for her courage on her first trip to RootsTech in 2011 and then going solo in the media room. You’re a trail-blazer Jill, and inspire us all.

AND THE FUN

Needless to say the week of socialising was also a ton of fun from the Commonwealth dinner on Tuesday night to the Saturday night get-together at Dear Myrtle‘s home,  where Myrt also gave us some Hangout on Air tips. Thanks to Myrt and family who made the evening, and RootsTech, so special.

Dear Myrt party hangout

A great gathering of Geneabloggers at Dear Myrtle’s home as a conference finale.

6 thoughts on “Reviewing RootsTech 2015: The highlights

  1. Great review Pauleen. For me the whole conference experience is so much more than just the talks (excluding the fact that I’m on a stand anyway). it is the one-on-one and smaller group interactions when you get to know others and make new friends that really make it.

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  2. An excellent summart, Pauleen, which I read with a great sense of relief. When I recommend something (especially something as expensive as Rootstech) I feel a great responsibility lest it fails to live up to expectations.

    I am thrilled that you enjoyed Rootstech. I hope we can repeat the experience as sharing it with fellow Aussie genimates enhanced it for me.

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