David Pogue, personal technology columnist for the New York Times, gave the opening keynote presentation on the third and final day of RootsTech. It would be impossible to do justice. I laughed until there were tears in my eyes. He received two standing ovations. If it becomes available as a rerun on the web it's a "not to be missed" even though it's not family history.
You had to feel sorry for the following speakers from My Heritage who had a clear message about the direction the company is taking, but whose star was outshone. It didn't help when presenter James Tanner stated that genealogists are looking to have the work done for them, while many of us enjoy the research process.
I went straight to a panel session of genetic genealogy experts chaired by Cece Moore, Tim Janzen from 23andMe's citizen advisory panel, Bennett Greenspan from Family Tree DNA and Catherine Ball from AncestryDNA. The vast majority of the attendees were knowledgeable and the discussion lively as promised. I plan a separate posting on that session.
I skipped the following session in order to make a visit to the Family History Library, then went to a jam packed presentation by Tom Jones, a case study of tracing back from a death record to discover a man who married several times and changed his name. He illustrated the value of judicious use of online compiled family trees. This session was given in a room which was far too small considering Jones's reputation.
I heard a number of critical comments about the quality of some of the speakers, that the approach was too basic and some presentations too much like infomercials. While I found plenty of substance in most of the presentations in the future the organizers could improve that quality and timeliness of information allowing attendees to better plan their schedule in advance. They also need to do a better job of assigning rooms to speakers, perhaps by asking people to indicate the talk in any session which they're most likely to attend as a basis for room assignment.
RootsTech next year will be February, 6-8, 2014. The organizers are indicating they would like to hold regional events as well.