This was my roller coaster day. First, I had fun, fun, fun.
This morning I was eager to hear the latest from Tim Sullivan, Ancestry’s president and CEO, and a panel of Ancestry engineers. Their presentation titled, “Making the Most of Technology to Further the Family History Industry,” kept me taking copious notes. Sullivan reported Ancestry has 1.7 million paid subscribers. When combined with other subscription sites, there are about two million people searching their family history. Ancestry’s technology goal is to make searching easier for everyone and then get out of the way and let people “do” their genealogy.
Sullivan hinted several times about a “soon to be launched DNA business” but “wouldn’t say anything about it.” Ancestors have left DNA clues to their past, towns they lived in, etc. Technology currently analyzes 24-36 markers, but in the future they would like to be able to analyze millions of markers.
Another burgeoning field is mobile applications. Ancestry has had two million downloads of their mobile app! Twelve percent of all Ancestry visits are from mobile apps. They plan to start building products on the mobile app first, then graduate the product to other venues.
Ancestry is looking at how to interface with Facebook. In the past, family history has been a solitary pursuit. Ancestry is hoping Facebook can help make family history something families can do together.
The panel provided a demonstration how they are creating technology to enhance and extract records, and find and interpret data. It was ALL quite illuminating!
Classes I attended:
- “Is Your Ancestor Hiding in This Photograph? New Family History Revelations,” by Patricia Moseley Van Skaik. Skaik gave a presentation similar to this last year at RootsTech and at that time it was voted one of the best lectures of the conference. I had missed it then, so made it a point to catch it this time around. I was not disappointed. Skaik works at the Cincinnati Public Library. The library has an 1848 daguerreotype panorama of the Cincinnati riverfront. The daguerreotype process captured detailed images better than our digital cameras today. Skaik and fellow workers were able to work with a high powered microscope to read signs on the side of buildings and discover other fine details. Then, they correlated censuses, cemeteries, newspapers, passenger lists, and other sources to recreate the lives of five people who inhabited that waterfront area. It was fascinating.
- “How to do a Webinar,” by Geoff Rasmussen. This lecture was a “hands on” workshop in the computer lab. Rasmussen walked us through the details of setting up a webinar, what to do once the show airs, and the post show things to do. He even went “live” so we could all sign in for a real life experience of organizing or presenting a webinar. It was well worth my time.
- “Self-Publish Your MS Word Book Like a Pro,” by Nancy Barnes and Biff Barnes. I had attended Nancy’s class yesterday, so I knew I was in for an education today. This class was taught in the computer lab, so we had hands on experience working with Microsoft Word. We could see the image of what she wanted us to do on the big screen, and then practiced on our own computers. Though I had pre-printed her syllabus handout, during the class I wrote notes all over the pages. The Barnes’ recommended using text only when formatting a book, and keep images in separate files. They cautioned that Word is not an image program. We should be wary of publishers that will accept a document as a Word file. Instead we should convert it to a .pdf. The best bet is to write a book in Word, but manipulate all the images in a photo processing program like Photoshop. Then, export it all into a program like Adobe Acrobat Pro to merge the two files. For the book cover, use something like Adobe Illustrator. It allow images to bleed to the edge of the cover. The Barnes’ had a lot of great information. In about a week, they will put the presentation on their website so anyone can gain from their expertise. Their website is www.storiestotellbooks.com.
During the lunch hour, FamilySearch and RootsMagic each gave away an IPad. I did not win, but it was okay because I had won just being able to attend this great conference. (The photo is of RootsMagic’s Bruce Buzbee raffling off the IPad.)
It was all fun, fun, fun … ‘til RootsTech rolled up the carpet and shut the doors. It was time to go home. I felt educated, charmed by those I met, and satiated.
Thank you RootsTech for another great conference!