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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Rootstech Day Two - no let-up in the pace

Another early start, with the FamilySearch VIP breakfast at 7:30. It helps if you are not facing the screen, which has a rolling slideshow of photos and biogs of all the attendees; it's a little disconcerting to glance up from your scrambled egg to see your own mug shot beaming inanely at you. It was, as usual, a very informal occasion, but there is a seating plan and place cards. I found myself sitting between Mike Hall, deputy chief genealogical officer with FamilySearch, whom I know quite well,  and Joyce Homan of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, whom I had not met before, who proved to be good company too. I was pleased to finally meet fellow blogger Janet Hovorka The Chart Chick of Family Chart Masters; we already have many mutual friends and I loved her 'Quick Insider's Guide to Salt Lake City'. Later I was introduced to Dennis Brimhall, new CEO of FamilySearch, who told me he will be visiting The National Archives at Kew in the near future.

The highlight of the day was the keynote address 'Exabyte Social Clouds and Other Monstrosities by Josh Coates, founder of MOZY, and you really had to be there, or at least watch the live-streamed version to appreciate what an event this was. He was funny, profound, thought-provoking - and barefoot. I did see him wearing shoes later, though. If you haven't already, catch it on the Rootstech site, you won't regret it. There is a good summary of the main points by The Ancestry Insider who understands this stuff better than most of us, and who helpfully explains the zombie in-joke.

Today was a key day for me, the day of our joint presentation on social networking, my geni-mates being Geniaus Jill Ball and We Tree Amy Coffin. I've already mentioned that our Canadian friend, Lorine McGinnis Schulze was unable to attend, but Jill, the driving force behind the whole thing, had left a slide showing Lorine's Olive Tree Genealogy Blog in the PowerPoint presentation, and Lorine herself was following the proceedings from afar, writing blog posts and commenting on Twitter. We had some nice messages of support beforehand (by various social media, of course), and it seemed to go quite well; several people said they liked it, no-one said they hated it, the room was pretty full and most people stayed to the end. and we had fun too. I call that a result. I promised to put some links and details of the example I quoted on a new page on this blog, and I will, but not just yet - one more day of frantic to get through first.

A personal highlight of the day was meeting my friends Martyn Killion and Heather Garnsey, from the Society of Australian Genealogists. I hadn't seen them for over ten years, so it was great to see them again. I'm looking forward to a proper catch-up over coffee before they fly home.

The NGS lunch was next, with a terrific double act from Josh Taylor and Barbara Rennick, looking at some (not all that) old technology - remember typewriters and mimeographs, writing letters and making calls on corded phones attached to a wall socket? Josh doesn't.

I attended the afternoon presentation on Google searching, and learnt some useful tips, but I was flagging a bit by then and had lot the ability to make coherent notes, so I'll have to catch up on that one later myself. After the Expo Hall closed I met up with some friends for an early dinner and rounded the day off watching the first episode of the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Martin Sheen. It was a good 'un too, with some particularly good revelations about the Spanish side of his family. I was surprised to find that he doesn't speak Spanish, though, considering his real name is Ramon Estevez. We were a small group, but we were Facebooking and tweeting with other groups watching elsewhere. There goes that social networking thing again.

It was late night at the Family History Library, just like last year, but I gave it a miss because I was pretty tired and my hotel is a good cab ride away from the Library. I still have Monday and Tuesday to get more research done. I even missed the anniversary edition of Geneabloggers Radio but I will catch the podcast later. Meanwhile, tireless ace reporter Geniaus was on hand and she posted a link to some great photos.

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