Friday, February 28, 2020

RootsTech 2020 Innovation and Technology Forum Summary

On Thursday morning, before the Expo Hall opened at RootsTech 2020, I attended the Innovation and Technology Forum in the Ruby Room at the Salt Palace.

The conference schedule describes it as:
"The Innovation and Technology forum is a fast-paced, entertaining event emcee'd by D. Josh Taylor, past President of the Federation of Genealogy Societies.  Clark G. Gilbert, former professor of entrepreneurial management at Harvard Business School, past president of BYU-1, past president of Deseret News, and current president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide will be out keynote speaker.  After the keynote address, attendees will witness lightning presentations by the biggest industry leaders such as Ancestry and Findmypast, as well as new up-and-coming players.  These organizations will showcase their latest technology and innovations.  Each audience member will rate each presentation and have the opportunity to provide private feedback directly to each presenting organization.  Your feedback will influence the future direction of this industry.  Each attendee will receive a special swag item for coming and participating in the event.  Come join us in the largest genealogical innovation event in the world."
Steve Rockwood of FamilySearch led off and introduced Joshua Taylor, who introduced Clark G. Gilbert, the keynote speaker.  

Clark discussed the 5 Reasons We Follow the Crowd.  This slide summarizes the points:

Josh Taylor came back and talked about the five top innovations in genealogy and family history over the past 20 years.  He noted:

1)  Online access to census records
2)  FamilySearch Record Pilot, resulting in digital microfilm
3)  Crowd Source Indexing
4)  Automated Hint s and Matching
5)  Consumer Autosomal DNA Tests

He then  noted four things what we need in the future:

1)  Tools to make family history accessible
2)  Technology to assist interpretation and understanding of search results
3)  Technology to help us learn
4)  Technology that enables us to share.

Josh then  introduced the industry speakers in turn (I didn't get all of the names so will only highlight the company or organization names):

1)  Introduced us to Story Scout:

This sounds very useful for Ancestry users, especially beginners.  It seemed similar to the FamilySearch Discovery centers.

2)  Treasure Key - using a Virtual Reality world online to tell interactive family stories -

3)  WieWasWie - the Dutch family tree site which has used machine learning to create family groups from civil records:

4) - continues to improve access to record images in their catalog, and the speed in bringing them online (now 24 hours).  The chart below shows the growth in number of images each year from 2010:

5) - French records online from official civil records, census records and historical archives:

6)  Findmypast highlighted their achievements in 2019, as shown in the screen below:

7) - their site says:  "Time Machine builds a large scale simulator mapping 2000 years of European History, transforming kilometres of archives and large collections from museums into a digital information system.":

I left before the closing remarks from Steve Rockwood, and missed receiving the free swag gift.

This was an interesting two hour forum, and I wish I was better at note taking and could remember more about each presentation.  I do have more photos of some of the presentation slides.

After this presentation, I went to the Media Hub, and tried to blog a bit, but it was also an excellent time to see genea-friends I hadn't seen for two years to discuss our lives and families.  Thank you to everyone who came by to welcome me back to RootsTech!!!  My tribe...


Copyright (c) 2020, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

No comments: