Review of RootsTech Final Day

RootsTech is now over, having finished effectively at about 3.30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.  The final day was dedicated to young genealogists.  Nearly 2,000 young people attended, aged between 11 and 18 and ready to learn about tracing their family trees.  Many were from the Boy Scouts of America, earning their genealogy badges.  It was interesting to sit near these young people and listen to how they were being introduced to their ancestors.  One boy was being tutored by his father and having the basics explained to him, such as what records should be used – birth, marriage and death certificates, censuses and so on.  In answer to a question from his father about what a “life event” was the boy said “drinking this coke”.  I was sure he was joking!  The father suggested the birth of the boy’s brothers as life events but he didn’t like his brothers and felt they weren’t important!  It was good to see so many children there and hopefully some will continue with the journey they have just set out on (and will include their siblings in their trees).

Much of the last day was spent further watching, listening to and talking to fellow delegates rather than attending talks and visiting stands.  The variety of stories being told and research activities being undertaken was fascinating to witness.

One final thing that I did was to sit on the very big plush white seats in the demonstration area and listen to a couple of talks about software.  One was on Snagit, a very powerful tool for cutting and pasting from documents and webpages.  The very interesting tool in Snagit was one that made it possible to capture the whole of a webpage or document through scrolling down from the top to the bottom.  Traditional cut and paste tools tend to only allow copying of what you see on the physical screen in front of you.  I plan to have a more in-depth look at Snagit, particularly in how it can improve educational presentations.

The second demo was on Family Village, a free game accessed through Facebook.  This is aimed at making family history fun and for involving a new generation of family historians.  The text from the website (http://www.familyvillagegame.com/index.html)says the following “In Family Village, you’ll build a thriving village populated with avatars representing your family and ancestors. You’ll build businesses, assign jobs, and collect profits  to earn money for your village to grow. You’ll build homes, buy cars, pets, and decorations from the time in which your ancestors lived, all while learning about your heritage.

As your village grows, Funium will be working behind the scenes to find family connections and interesting documents such as newspaper articles, yearbook photos, census records, marriage records, maps and many other interesting items that will allow you to know much more about your family. You will be able to save these documents in your library and share them with other friends and family as you wish.”

The very short demonstration of the game intrigued me and I think that it actually encapsulates what the whole of the conference was about – finding, organising and sharing family histories but I am not sure how it will preserve things.  That needs looking into.

So then it was all over as quickly as it began and we are now on our way back home.  We will miss our old friends and also our new new friends but will keep in conact through the many on-line tools at our finger tips.

Mark Nicholls

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