@AJJacobs, @LoveTaza, & @StoryCorps @RootsTechConf

Friday, February 5, 2016

At the Friday keynote session, RootsTech attendees were greeted with some exciting news. First, on-site registration surpassed 26,000. Second, those in attendance were from all 50 states and more than 35 countries. Finally, Thursday night’s Freedmen’s Bureau index-a-thon exceeded its goal. Indexers, on-site and virtual, sought to index 900 batches in 90 minutes; the result was that participants indexed and arbitrated over 1860 batches! As Steve Rockwood said in his opening remarks, “We come to RootsTech to DO family history!” Thursday night’s index-a-thon was a great example of this declaration. It speaks volumes :)

One aspect of RootsTech that I love is the live streaming that allows anyone with an internet connection to be included throughout the majority of the conference. The RootsTech theme is “celebrating families across generations.” It also connects time zones and distance through this technology and it is offered free of charge.

Our cousin A.J. Jacobs returned to the stage this year to report on the Global Family Reunion held on June 6, 2015. He affirmed that Sister Sledge had it right, “We are family.” DNA has helped him discover hundreds of cousins, including his wife. He admits that she is a distant cousin and assures us that their children are all okay. He said that although some cousins had previous commitments, 3700 attended the Global Family Reunion in New York with 40 simultaneous satellite reunions around the world totaling 10,000 more in attendance. The event broke several world records, including biggest worldwide family reunion. One of the purposes of this event is to garner interest in family history. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People magazine & Good Morning America provided coverage and the reunion will be featured on the season finale of Finding Your Roots. Jacobs announced another family reunion in 2017 so you may want to keep your 2017 summer calendar free until the date is set. He closed by saying he believes that “We are all related and it’s not us vs. them. It’s just us; there is no them. We’re in this together.”

Jacobs then introduced Josh and Naomi Davis, fellow New Yorkers who author the blog Love Taza. As a couple, they took center stage to share their journey of blogging as newlyweds to blogging as the parents of 3 children. They now have over a million people throughout the world interested in their family adventure. Recently returning from Australia, they admit that theirs is an ordinary life. Besides photography, Naomi likes to capture moments with her children by recording “-isms.” She calls them “Eleanorisms” and “Samsonisms” after their authors. One example Naomi shared was when their daughter Eleanor was “looking at [her] pregnant tummy and asked, “So, is the baby just swimming around in there? … Is she wearing a swimsuit?”                                                            Love Taza WP

As we heard throughout the conference, Josh and Naomi reiterated that “everyone in this room has a story!” and encouraged all of us to “become a part of a global community of storytellers” because “it’s not a story if it’s not told.”

These words were the perfect transition to the next speaker, David Isay, founder of StoryCorps. StoryCorps was founded in 2003 when a recording booth was established in Grand Central Terminal. The premise is that a person brings someone that they want to honor to the booth and he or she then has the opportunity to record a 40 minute interview. StoryCorps provides a facilitator and, if desired, a list of questions. After the interview concludes, one copy of the interview goes to the Library of Congress and another copy is given to those who interviewed.

Isay played for those in attendance a number of excerpts of these stories. In my opinion, no one can tell their story better than they can so, if you’d like to hear these stories, watch the RootsTech keynote address below or listen to a number of examples on the StoryCorps website. StoryCorps expanded its reach by having mobile units that are dispatched throughout the United States. Schedules fill up quickly. Most recently, StoryCorps released an app that allows an individual to record his or her story and send it directly to the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress where it will be archived. [Note: The StoryCorps app requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is also available for Android from Google Play.]

David Isay closed with a quote from Mary Lou Kownacki, a Philadelphia nun who said, “It’s impossible not to love someone whose story you’ve heard.” As he continued he quoted Mother Teresa saying, “We have forgotten that we belong to each other.” He thanked the RootsTech audience for asking the important questions, for honoring our families, and for listening.

After David Isay’s address, it was time for the Innovator Showdown where 6 finalists competed for $100,000 in cash and prizes. TapGenes took 1st place, followed by STUDIO, and Twile. Twile was also the recipient of the People’s Choice Award.

Although I planned to attend a number of sessions, my schedule permitted only one. It was a panel discussion on ethical dilemmas in the genealogy community. Copyright, plagiarism, compensation, and other issues were addressed. To summarize the wisdom gleaned from the discussion: if it’s a violation of law or a violation of a moral conscience, don’t do it; if it’s considerate of another, such as reimbursing a volunteer for out-of-pocket expenses incurred on one’s behalf, do it.

[Today’s title consists of the Twitter handles of Friday’s keynote speakers or their organizations.]

Copyright ©2016 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

RootsTech Begins in 7 Days!

 RootsTech VIPs 2016

Family History Enthusiasts Worldwide Gathering in Utah for RootsTech 2016

For Immediate Release From RootsTech

SALT LAKE CITY, 27 January 2016—RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, is looking forward to over 20,000 visitors over four days with an exciting array of speakers and entertainers, over 250 interesting and informative classes, a huge expo hall with more than 160 exhibitors. There is something for every level of family history—from the beginner to experienced. The three-day conference begins on Thursday, February 4, and goes through Saturday, February 6. For more information go to RootsTech.org.

The keynote speakers and offerings reflect the growing influence of family history. Today multiple generations of all ages are engaging through family storytelling and sharing memories within families using social media and an expanding array of new technologies and mobile apps. The opening session on February 4 will begin with Stephen T. Rockwood, who is the managing director for the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and President/CEO of FamilySearch International.

Also featured is Paula Williams Madison who is chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC, a Los Angeles based media consultancy company with global reach. After her retirement in 2011, Madison started doing research on her family lineage. She wrote the book and produced a movie Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem in April 2015 about her experiences. A free screening of the movie will be provided on Wednesday, February 3.

Bruce Feiler is one of America’s most popular commentators about contemporary life. He hosts the PBS series Walking the Bible and Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. He wrote The Secrets of Happy Families containing best practices for busy parents from some of the country’s most creative minds. He has appeared on many television shows on NRP, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and others.

On Friday, February 5, David Isay, is a scheduled keynote. He’s the founder of StoryCorps, an award-winning organization that provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their life stories. 50,000 interviews have been archived and preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. He has also written several New York Times bestsellers, including Listening is an Act of Love. He is a broadcaster and documentarian, and his research reveals ways to tell great stories for the family historian.

Also on Friday, Josh and Naomi Davis, popular family bloggers known as Love Taza, will speak. On their blog, they relate their life with their three children in bustling New York City. The blog has become a digital destination viewed by millions around the world. People love the inspiration about raising a family and the appreciation Naomi has for life’s simple joys.

On Saturday, February 6, Doris Kearns Goodwin is a world-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. She worked with Spielberg on the movie Lincoln, based in part on her award winning Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. She has written books about Frank and Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and the Kennedys and shares her expertise and commentary on many television shows. She has a PhD in government from Harvard and was an assistant to Lyndon Johnson and has been a consultant in several PBS and History Channel documentaries.

Also on Saturday, Michael Leavitt, a three-term former governor of Utah, will speak. He also served in George W. Bush’s cabinet as an Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The second annual Innovator Summit is a one-day event on Wednesday, February 3, for developers, entrepreneurs, and innovators from around the globe to explore, examine, and discover business and technological opportunities within the family history industry—a rapidly growing multibillion dollar industry. Innovators from around the globe and from all industries will be competing for a piece of the $100,000 in total cash and in-kind prizes. The keynote speaker for this event will be Ken Krogue, an entrepreneur who has taken his business InsideSales.com from a small beginning to a billion dollar industry. He will share his expertise about social media and how to use the different forms effectively.

Along with the keynotes, RootsTech attendees will be able to hear from the Crescent Super Band, featuring Ryan Inness, and Lower Lights, a popular gospel and folk band.

More information about speakers, entertainers, classes, and how to register at RootsTech can be found at RootsTech.org.

About RootsTech

RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide.