Google Productivity Pad: RootsTech 2014 recap of my day

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

RootsTech 2014 recap of my day

This is rather late in coming since RootsTech was February 6th to the 8th, but my blogging schedule was thrown off by the watching the Olympics (which I loved). Even though I am late I wanted to give you all a recap of my day at RootsTech. I was only there for the last day because my wife and I only registered to attend the free classes for members of the LDS church on the last day of the conference, next year I hope to be able to attend more.

What is RootsTech?
RootsTech is a conference centered around the junction of genealogy and technology. It is cosponsored by the LDS church and several large genealogy research companies. Genealogists and family history consultants as well as hobbyists and bloggers come from all over to attend in Salt Lake City.

There are many keynotes and breakout sessions and even special classes just for youth. For those like me who live tweeted the sessions we attended there was #RootsTech. And for those far away at home many sessions were streamed online.

What does it have to do with iOS?
As mobile technology proliferates more and more of the tech genealogists and family history consultants use moves to apps on the iPhone and iPad. Because it is an industry dominated by an older demographic this change is interesting to watch. Particularly because this segment of the senior demographic tend to be more on the tech savvy side. Even though my wife and I were certainly among the youngest attendees at the conference, I saw many people using iPads throughout the day.

Since the inception of the iPad it has lended itself well to the senior crowd because of its ease of use. This year at RootsTech there were actually whole class sessions devoted to using an iPad for family history. Many of the vendors in the expo hall had iPad or iPhone apps now as part of their service. So this an exciting time, especially in an area like genealogy where mobility and technology have always been part of the process.

Just to give you a sample of what types of iOS related features were there I will highlight a few:

Billion Graves Project
This was one of the coolest iOS integrations I saw there. These people built an app that creatively combines the features of mobile technology to create both a service project and a genealogical database.

The concept is this: volunteers with smartphones walk through cemeteries taking pictures of gravestones and geotagging those images with each grave's location. The information on those headstones is then transcribed into a database that makes them searchable. Individuals looking for their family's graves can then search for them and find the location and see a picture.

I just think this is awesome and I hope that I will be able to help out with it.

Trunx photo storage app
One important aspect of family history is preserving ours for the future generations. Trunx is a cloud storage service that attempts to help you do that through photos. They offer secure back up for your pictures with timeline and location data.

Trunx did one of the most creative promotions I saw at RootsTech, which involved using an iOS device. They provided you with a photo scavenger hunt bingo card. You downloaded their app, created a special tag for the bingo game, then you went back through your past to find the appropriate pictures and tag them. Once you had bingo you went to their booth in the expo hall and got a prize. If you had the special Disney Land square you got and additional prize.

What I liked about this was it did not just get your email address on a piece of paper, which is what most booths were doing. It did get your email address, but it also took you through how to use the service in a fun way.

Lastly I used my iOS device the whole day to stay on top of the conference using twitter with the conference hashtag, #RootsTech. It was a great way to know what was going on in other parts of the conference and to see what others were thinking.

All in all I had a great day at RootsTech. I learned a lot that is going to help me in my family history this year. I'm excited about the possibilities of mobile technology in this space. That's all for now, and remember, live better.

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