Warning: Contents May Have Shifted During Flight

Warning: Contents May Have Shifted During Flight

by Kerry Scott on 15 February 2011

Post image for Warning:  Contents May Have Shifted During Flight

So let’s talk about RootsTech.

It’s hard to know what to say, because so many others are covering this conference well.  If you want to read about specifics, there are lots of great places to find that sort of thing.  I’m just going to talk about my own personal experience (because yeah, it’s all about me).

First, a confession:  I hate conferences.  I’m not a person who learns much from lectures, and I’m a huge introvert.  Two days of flying plus three days of going to sessions and trying to find a pop machine and talking to strangers and hanging out in noisy places and sleeping in an uncomfortable bed in a hotel that doesn’t get the channel with the Real Housewives?  That’s torture.

I went to RootsTech because I’ve already been to NGS (once in 2002 and once in 2003), and that was one time too many.  FGS is held the week that the kids start school, so that’s not an option for me.  That left RootsTech.  I knew I needed to get out and meet my genealogy blogging friends in person, and I had a frequent flyer ticket that was going to expire.  My expectations weren’t high.  I was looking forward to seeing my peeps, but to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward much to the conference itself.  I’m just not one of those people who comes home all fired up from this sort of thing.

So imagine my surprise when I found my mind completely blown.  BLOWN.  Seriously.  My brain is so full of good stuff I can hardly see straight.

Here’s another confession:  I’ve wondered lately whether genealogy was going to be a fit for me.  There are some elements of genealogy that remind me of my old life in HR (and not in a good way).  There’s the debate over who is “qualified” to join the professional society.  There’s the poo-pooing of people who use Facebook, Twitter, or blogs.  There’s the idea that anyone who doesn’t put the semicolon in the right spot on their citation is probably an idiot.  There’s the idea that it’s important to impress people inside your profession, and maybe less important to impress the people who actually hire you.  It all feels familiar, and it all makes me feel like maybe I’m going to be a fish out of water in this field, just as I was in the last one.

I’m over it.  I found my tribe.  They’re at RootsTech, and there were THREE THOUSAND of them.  This was the first RootsTech ever, and THREE THOUSAND people came.  In genealogy, that’s a huge number.  That’s a sign that the marketplace is looking for something fresh.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am to learn that it’s not just me.

It turns out that there’s a huge community of people out there who are genuinely excited about the changes we’re seeing in the field.  There are others who think there’s been such an over-correction on the sources thing that we’re losing newbies altogether.  There are others who don’t care where you put the comma.  There are others who get that it’s insane to be having a discussion of how to get new business as a professional genealogist without including Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and blogs.  There are people out there who get it.  Even the guy who gave the Dark Ages talk a while back gave a speech this time that would have knocked your socks off if you’re a 21st century genealogist (I don’t know what changed his mind, but the dude totally rocked it out last Friday, and I hereby un-roll my eyes at him).

One thing I do miss about HR is the fact that I had colleagues (colleagues who were often obsessed with whether people were following the dress code or getting personal emails at work…but colleagues nonetheless).  Genealogy can be a lonely profession, and it’s even lonelier if you’re a stay-at-home parent on top of it, because it’s not easy to get away to stuff like this.  I expected to make some contacts at RootsTech, but what I actually made was…friends.  I had no idea there were others like me out there in this field.

If you’ve felt like maybe you were alone in your desire to move forward instead of looking backward, this is your conference.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Tiner February 15, 2011 at 6:17 pm

That sounds like so much fun I could imagine enjoying the conference too, even though I also hate hotel rooms and am only marginally pursuing genealogy :-).

Please tell us more!


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

More is coming…I have lots of comments and emails, and I’m turning some of the responses into posts.


Missy Corley February 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm

It was so great meeting and hanging out with you. This post really sums up the whole event nicely (and thanks for the link back!). Hoping to see you there again next year!


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:15 am

You too…and you will definitely see me there next year!


Lorine McGinnis Schulze February 15, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Good post! I didn’t realize you were in SLC or I would have looked for you! I would have enjoyed chatting. My bed was miserable. I couldn’t find my number!



Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:17 am

My bed wasn’t that bad (and actually the Salt Lake Plaza is a great hotel), but I have a fancy Tempur-Pedic mattress at home, which means I am horribly spoiled and never sleep well anywhere else. First-world problems, I know.


Randy Seaver February 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I so wished to be there – to meet you and the other genea-bloggers that become instant friends…because we have a community. I’m glad you’ ve found the tribe. Isn’t it great? And fun! I’ll bet you weren’t an introvert at the Blogger’s place.

Are there local societies that meet on the weekend? Milwaukee’s a fairly large place… just saying. You may find colleagues there, or at a local FHC, or lcoal library. That’s what I did for 15 years…fortunately, San Diego society met on Saturday, but it wasn’t until I retired that I really found colleagues.

Take care — Randy


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

Actually, it felt like you were there because of your tweets and posts. That’s one of the great things about this conference…we could interact regardless of the geography.

Plus, one thing I’ve found is that the colleagues I’ve found through blogs and Facebook and Twitter ARE my people. There were folks I saw, hugged, and then talked to like we’d seen each other last week. The relationships we form online are real, and that’s another one of the lessons of RootsTech (for me, anyway).


Elizabeth O'Neal February 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I’m glad to hear that the conference went well, but I’m not glad to hear that I missed something great! I so wanted to be there, but had another conference the same weekend… and since I was the organizer, I kind of had to be there. :-(

There’s some completely wonderful genealogy folks out there. Sounds like you found quite a few of them!


Amy Crow February 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Glad you found a conference that’s a fit for you! Despite all the social media, I’ve found that it’s still good to make actual contact w/ people — even for introverts like us :-)

I’m sorry I didn’t see your post from last July about the Dark Ages. The newspaper article that was quoted took so much of his talk out of context and missed one point almost completely. It wasn’t that technology is bad — it was that the technology we use tends to be more ephemeral. I have family photos that are over 100 years old, but will my digital photos last that long? It’s going to take a lot more work for them to make it to the century mark, I assure you! Hmm… I’m feeling a new blog post coming on… :-)


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

Amy—I did wonder after I heard him speak live if maybe the newspaper article took some things out of context. I actually do think my digital photos have survival odds on par with my 100-year-old paper ones, but in fairness to Witcher, I think that his earlier talk may have suffered from the media translation.


Ruy Cardoso February 15, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I just want to know what kind of stimulants Curt takes.


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:22 am


The dude can give a speech. That room was absolutely his. I’d recommend him to anyone looking for a speaker for sure.


JenS February 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm

The more I read from everyone who was at Rootstech (both during and after), the more I wish I could have been there, too. I keep telling anyone who’ll listen that “I think these are my people.” But, being new to the online genealogy world (and an introvert, and not too keen on lectures, and at home with small children for at least a few more weeks) it just didn’t seem feasible. I am currently trying to figure out if there is any possible way to make it to next year’s conference. Thanks for making me wish I was there even more!


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:23 am

That’s exactly my situation too. I hope you get to come next year, because truly, it was worth it (and I think next year will be even better, because more people will come).


JL February 16, 2011 at 1:54 am

I was hoping by now I would have heard something more specific about what actually went on there instead of a lot of Wowie-Kazowie’s with very little to no detail.


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 9:26 am

JL—I started to reply in a comment but it was too long, so it’s going to be a post instead. Watch for it hopefully sometime later this morning.


Kerry Scott February 16, 2011 at 10:24 am
Ruth Blair February 16, 2011 at 7:25 am

Great post Kerry! I enjoyed your comments and view point on the conference. Above all else genealogy should be fun. Wish I had been there ;)


Valereie February 16, 2011 at 7:32 am

Kerry, loved your post! I am glad someone else feels the same way, I was beginning to wonder myself. Looking forward to RootsTech 2.0!


Lynn Palermo February 16, 2011 at 8:26 am

Kerry, I would have never of pegged you for an introvert! Wish I had been at the conference to meet you, even from home I felt like the clouds had shifted and the sun came out. And totally agree, Curt was a rockstar!


Caron Brennan February 17, 2011 at 8:02 am

Hi Kerry!
I was happy to meet you at Rootstech – it is always nice to connect. I LOVED the conference and felt very at home there. I was “geeky” before it was cool and feel I am finally one of the crowd, thanks to Rootstech!

As I mentioned when we met, a number of people who heard my Social Networking presentation have told me they LOVE your blog and were thankful that I put them on to it.


Kerry Scott February 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

Caron—I loved meeting you too!


CJ February 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Everytime you post something, I have to read it immediately. I get a kick out of what you say sometimes! But in this post, I realized that we are WAY too much alike! That’s why I must go to this conference next year! I may have to go a few days before so I can sleep for 3 solid days to get over the flight anxiety. But I WILL be there! I’m glad you were able to go and “see the light” or whatever you saw. Just as long as you continue with your Genealogy and your blog posts!


Kay Strickland February 21, 2011 at 6:23 am

I am so bummed. :( I didn’t get to go. You have confirmed my suspicions: it was a gathering of MY PEOPLES. Were it not for technology, I would never have become my family’s historian in my second act (the one following the stay at home mom act) and my local society is just not that much fun. So here’s to another Year 2011 Promise To Self–make plans to attend the second RootsTech conference in 2012!!!!!


Dianne February 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm

“Be who you are, and say what you feel…Because those who matter…don’t mind…And those who mind…don’t matter.”

I don’t know who wrote this or where I got it, but it seems to fit you, Kerry. I just found your website a little while ago (probably more like an hour and a half ago!) and can’t seem to break myself away from it. Thanks! Dianne


Elyse Doerflinger May 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Hi Kerry –

I seriously love every single one of your posts because you are always so right on the spot! Some genealogists out there seem to get their panties in a bunch over the silliest thing. But trust me, you have definitely found your tribe.

You should totally come to SCGS’s Jamboree in Burbank, CA. It is so much fun and trust me – your tribe is there!


Kerry Scott May 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I would LOVE to come to Jamboree, but it’s perpetually during the week of my wedding anniversary (which is also the week in between school getting out and summer camp starting, which means it is the week of our family vacation). I am hoping to make it to RootsTech (and possibly NGS) in 2012 though. Fingers crossed!


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