For those of you who were not able to attend, and for those of you who did, but could not get to every session (ie: you are not a super hero able to be in 13 places at once), be sure to check into the main RootsTech web site and view the recorded sessions that are available, as well as searching for RootsTech on YouTube.
For now, let me give you my top 10 highlights of RootsTech 2012:
1. Keynotes: Fantastic this year and really put what we learned into a future-minded perspective! They were energetic, informative and reminded us all of why we were there! It also helped us see where we were headed as an industry!
6. Metadata and GedcomX: If you do not know what these are, review the recorded sessions and syllabus material. These were two major issues that were addressed this year - and in my opinion, the two most important issues in the industry today. Great sessions and plans for future discussions! I will post more about these later!
7. Live streaming and recorded sessions: I didn't get to take part in these, but knowing the rest of the genealogy world could enjoy some of these wonderful sessions, the more I felt comfortable with the overall conference. A must for all future RootsTech conferences!
8. 1940 Census: The hype was great and the explanations about the community indexing projects were very helpful. The information learned at the various census partners booths will be invaluable as I relay some of the info to my local genealogist groups.
Win: More couches/seating in the Exhibit Hall - great improvement! They had several sections of long comfortable couches and benches around the Cyber Cafe and Playground areas. As a testament to these being a great addition, they were ALWAYS in use, no matter what time of day!
Win: Syllabus material. MUCH better than last year! More complete, and readily available online instead of just on a CD. My only area for improvement here would have been including it in the App somehow, but I know the files were large, so they get a pass on that one.
Fail: Hands-on Workshops. Ok, so I attended three of these, and from beginning to end, they were awkward. The initial sign-up for these before the conference filled seats up within 3 hours - please get larger labs for these! They are in high demand and very helpful! One hands-on workshop was not hands-on at all. This was one of the most highly anticipated workshops - the 1940 census indexing sneak peek - only it wasn't. Once we got in there, it was just a presentation about Family Search Indexing in general, how the 1940 census would go live, timelines about indexing, and a history of the 1940 census. This one could have been presented in the main large hall as a lecture/presentation and they would have filled up the place! There was NO hands-on portion - so why limit this when it was a main theme of the conference and could have been given a standard lecture room?! The other hands-on workshops were fine and instructional, but with the varying skill levels of participants, it slows things down and makes the flow hard for the presenter.
Fail: Session quality. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I just have to say that the amount of basic user level sessions was disappointing. Some of the sessions presented were on the same level as intro tech sessions seen at NGS or FGS. This is THE tech conference for the industry. I would have much rather seen some serious instructional sessions on the advanced user levels, rather than overviews or lists of what can be used. I attended one of the few sessions on e-book publication and was disappointed to learn it was a session on how to publish through one company - no, I want to learn best practices, review of the various ways to do this, and who has the best interface, etc. We really need to step up the level of some of the sessions for next year. After talking with several attendees, I was not alone in this feeling.
Well, that's it for this year! I will be creating individual posts later to discuss various tech issues and things learned during the conference, but as so many of us have declared - RootsTech takes a lot of post-processing time! I'm not sure I will be attending next year, but this second year has confirmed for me that this conference is on a strong ride with no signs of diminishing anytime soon. However, with the live streaming, Twitter feeds, Blogs, syllabi and recorded sessions, none of us have to miss out if we can't make it every year! Despite any criticisms above, it was a great conference this year and we all thank the organizers for a great time! It was a HUGE success!!