Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 5 in SLC - RootsTech Day 3

All good things muct come to an end.  This is the last day of RootsTech and it seems like a blur to me.  I would love to slow time down so that I could talk to exhibitors, attend presentations, commune with my geneablogging colleagues, and have time to work on my genealogy research at the conference. 

Saturday opened with the Keynote panel with, moderated  by CEO Tim Sullivan, discussing "Making the Most of Technology to Further the Family History Industry."  Tim noted that has about 1.7 million subscribers, and that there are a few million genealogists actively researching online. He also said that they spent $21 million digitizing content last year.  His theme was that technology should help researchers make discoveries about their family history.  One question was how have their strategies changed over the years.  Eric Shoup said that they try to balance the needs of all customers, from beginner to expert, and try to understand all of the market segments.  That is why they have the different search engine capabilities and the tree hints. 

They discussed the mobile applications - there have been 2 million downloads of the app, and over 1 million photos have been attached using the mobile app.  60% of the app downloaders have subscribed to Ancestry.  They said that people want to use their mobile to do family history, and that Ancestry will start to build new products on mobile first.

The big news was two technology applications to the historical records, which were demonstrated live online.  The first is the indexing of the City Directories using their patented semantic extraction tool, (previously indexed by OCR).  The second is the new interactive browser that highlights lines in historical records (e.g., census records), and then explains field entries in the columns (e.g., "step-son of head of household), "born in Germany, etc.).

Watch the entire video when it becomes available on FamilySearch or RootsTech.

The exhibit hall opened, and I hightailed it over to the WikiTree booth and talked to Chris Whitten (WikiTree developer),  and Dallan Quass (of  Then it was over to the Flip-Pal booth to talk to Walt Grady and get a little demonstration.  I also went around taking pictures of some of the exhibits and talked to several more people.

Then it was back to the Media Hub to write the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post.  I hope that you all will play this weekend!  At lunch, a number of geneabloggers sat around and talked about everything. 

I will spend the last two hours talking to geneabloggers, readers and exhibitors in hopes that I will gain more knowledge to pass on to my readers.  Lastly, I have an appointment with Gilad Japhet of MyHeritage to see their latest advances.

Tonight, Linda and I are going to the after-party at Janet and Kim Hovorka's home with a number of people.


Harold Henderson said...

Randy -- Thanks for the report -- it's really hard to capture the experience of this conference! I also was struck by the report that 12% of Ancestry visits are now from mobile devices, up from 8% just a few months ago. Also, one of the executives predicted unheard-of findings from DNA...including ancestral town locations. Can you find out what he was thinking? -- Harold

Janet Hovorka said...

It was so fun to have you and Linda for dinner last night. We run with the best group of people don't we? Thanks for everything you do for the genealogy community. I so appreciate you.

Elizabeth Lapointe said...

Hi, Randy,

Since I couldn't attend RootsTech, I watched all of the streaming videos, and picked up a lot of information, as well as reading your blogs on the events.

Well done Randy, and I hope to read a couple more of your posts plus see more pictures.