I just returned yesterday from the first RootsTech Conference held February 10-12 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a selected speaker, I had the privilege of giving four talks and serving on two panels–one on Self-Publishing and the other on Blogging.
It was unlike any other genealogy conference I have attended or presented at. From the keynotes, to the exhibit hall and the networking with fellow genealogists it was an exhilarating whirlwind from start to finish. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of the breakout sessions because I was either presenting or meeting with attendees after my own sessions to answer additional questions. It was wonderful seeing old friends again and meeting new ones! I was happy to finally meet some of my fellow genealogists/writers/bloggers in person after years of corresponding by e-mail or interacting now through Facebook and Twitter. There are plenty of my fellow bloggers who have done an excellent job of posting photographs, video, and comments about RootsTech. (See some via GeneaBloggers). But here are my comments about what I loved about RootsTech and a few things I think they could improve upon for next year (February 2-4 in Salt Lake).
What I liked:
1. Plenty of sessions to choose from whether you were a newbie genealogist, advanced researcher, or a developer.
2. Fantastic exhibit hall with hands-on demos, a playground sponsored by Microsoft, a cybercafe, and a special media center for the Bloggers/Media.
3. “Unconferencing” and other opportunities for networking.
4. The energy and positive vibes from the speakers and attendees.
5. The “Who Do You Think You Are?” viewing party at the Family History Library, which stayed open until midnight on Friday. A genealogist’s dream.
Suggestions for Improvement:
1. Free wireless Internet for all attendees in all of the conference areas/rooms. There were some places where the wi-fi did not work.
2. Maybe have the exhibit hall open a bit later on the last day.
3. Some improvements for the registration process–especially for the hands-on workshops. Those sessions where attendees are using computers need to be monitored from the start. A list needs to be available for the speaker/room monitor.
One of the best parts of the conference for me was a dinner party for bloggers on Saturday night hosted by A.C. Ivory–who writes the Find My Ancestor blog, and his family. A great end to the conference–a chance to just sit and relax and talk with my fellow bloggers.
All in all, it was a high-caliber conference that was informative, entertaining, and made me excited to be a 21st-century genealogist.
Looking forward to RootsTech 2012–I already have next year’s dates blocked out on my calendar!
[Disclosure: As a speaker for RootsTech 2011, I received complimentary lodging at one of the conference-designated hotels].