Wow! What a truly extraordinary experience that was!
The largest gathering of online Genealogists for one event ever and this could even be the largest gathering for any type of online conference ever recorded.
The numbers are truly amazing, with over 1 Million attendees over the 3 days from over 200 countries, what a truly fantastic achievement. Firstly, can I say a massive massive thank you to both RootsTech and Family Search for pulling this off, a staggering achievement. Remembering of course that this has all been made available, “free of charge” for the entire Genealogy Community and the World at large.
How did they do it? I must admit I was sceptical, I wondered if they had taken on too much and underestimated the task. Not a chance, the whole 3 days were virtually glitch free! I feared that the sheer volume of traffic would grind the website and presentations to a halt, but far from it, they appeared to operate pretty much without fault for the whole 3 days. The only slight downside was the chatrooms didn’t always appear to work smoothly and connecting to those could be problematical at times, but now I am being picky!
With a huge 800 plus talks and classes to view, the choice was endless, covering every single aspect of Genealogy, with many different communities represented. It seemed a bit overwhelming in the beginning, when I first started piecing together my own ‘playlist’, but of course there was no need to panic, the talks will be available to view for a whole 12 months, so there is no need to rush.
I found the quality of talks that I have so far viewed, to have been first class, credit to all the speakers for delivering such glossy performances. Given the 20-minute brief for each talk and the fact that there was no interaction from a live audience, I think that on the whole, they did a wonderful job. Most talks were accompanied with extremely high quality handouts as well. Far too many wonderful talks to mention them all here.
Did you experience the Expo Hall? I had a good nose around the different Companies offering a variety of products and services, all with excellent Demos and the ability to ask questions. There were some new products being released, as well as some updates on some old favourites as well and the highlight of the Expo Hall for me was the MyHeritage stand and the launch of their amazing new photo imaging software called “Deep Nostalgia”. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would seriously urge you to give it a go. The software literally brings a still photograph to life and for someone that has never seen a moving image of their Father before, this genuinely moved me to tears. Yes, it has its limitations, but it is truly a remarkable tool and will change the way we look at Photographs forever.
The highlight of the whole show for me was the two Family Tree Magazine zoom meetings, ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Afternoon Tea’, made #RootsTechConnect for me. Not because of my connections to the Magazine, but because of the connections made to my “genie’ friends, both old and new, this really put the “Connect” into #RootsTechConnect. That is one of the main differences between a live show and virtual show, you miss that “buzz” and atmosphere and miss those conversations that you strike up with like minded Genealogist’s at the show, it’s that little bit of “connect” that only a live show can bring. The Family Tree meetings bridged that gap superbly well and I think it was a really fun thing to do and even with the ‘intruder’, it never spoilt the fun.
Having a virtual event instead of a live show did however give those giving talks and all the helpers involved, the opportunity to join in the show for a change, normally they would miss out on a lot of activities because they would normally be hands on, so a good plus for those that normally miss out. There is a lot for the Genealogy Community to consider going forwards, with regards virtual shows against live shows, definitely room for both in my opinion. Lots also for those presenting the wonderful talks to also consider, how they continue to make the ‘connect’ with their industry, but those thoughts are for another day.
In summary, what will I take away?
Lots of inspiration to do more, try more and take on new challenges, shows like this always fill us with enthusiasm. For me I love the innovation and the ways in which our community are able to bring fresh and inspiring ideas to everyone, but the most important part for me is that I realise how much I miss people and I miss you guys! For me it’s all about being connected, so I can’t wait for the next live show…………I hope to see you there.