It’s been almost a week since the end of RootsTech and FGS 2015. After suffering through delayed flights, adjusting back to my own time zone, and battling to keep the pipes in the house from freezing solid, I’ve finally had a chance to put some thoughts together.
(This is beyond the “genealogy conferences as group therapy” thought that I had earlier this week.)
The Stories… and the Pushback
As Randy Seaver pointed out in his FGS/RootsTech recap, there were a LOT of vendors focusing on stories. Even the winner of the Innovator Summit has a product based around recording family stories. (BTW, some people seem to have the wrong impression of StoryWorth. It isn’t recording only via phone calls; that’s just one way to record them. But I digress.)
I heard some pushback while I was in Salt Lake and I’ve seen comments on various social media channels. “That’s not genealogy.” “Where was all of the research stuff?” “You’d think this was a storytelling conference instead of a genealogy conference.”
On The Intrepid Sleuth blog, she (sorry — couldn’t find your name!) stated:
The majority of the tech community seems far more interested in the latest rage, “story capturing”, and are busy developing entertaining, social based, game-like, story capturing and sharing apps that memorialize not the past so much as present day family events. They do not see a market for anything supportive of the serious family researcher. This is sad. What’s even sadder is that the core genealogist community is not up in arms over this. I have a pitchfork, who’s with me?
(Not picking on you, Intrepid Sleuth. Just quoting you because it summed up a lot of what I heard and read during and after the conferences. And I totally agree with you about the need to clean the Salt Palace Convention Center. I’d add that they also need better signage.)
Here’s Why I Don’t Have a Pitchfork
First, a bit of background. I’ve been “doing” genealogy for a LONG time. I’ve been a Certified Genealogist since 1995. You might call me a “serious” researcher — and you’d be right. I do take my research seriously. But I didn’t start this way.
It started with my grandma’s stories. It evolved as I learned more and wanted to make more discoveries — to learn more about my ancestors than what Grandma knew.
There’s room for a lot of players and a lot of viewpoints in the genealogy world. The finalists in the Innovator Summit included a company that is working on reading handwriting to index old records. There was also a company that wants to match people with research problems with the genealogists who can help solve them.
The exhibit hall was filled with the “big guys” in the genealogy world, right along with “mom and pop” operations with hand-lettered signs. There were high-tech things and there were decidedly low-tech things. There were even things that didn’t specifically relate to genealogy. (I’ll admit right here that I had a serious case of lens envy every time I passed the Nikon booth.) People were visiting all of them.
Not only is there space for everyone, I have a selfish reason for being more than ok with those who focus on stories. I got my start with the family stories and it sparked a passion in me. That passion grew and I learned more and more and have made some wonderful discoveries about my family. I’ve had opportunities to learn from others who have had the same experience. I want more people to get that spark, to feel that sense of wonder and curiosity. Why? Not only because it will make our community stronger, but because perhaps one of them will be a cousin and will want to share those stories with me.
What are your thoughts?