RootsTech: Am I the only one that wasn’t really interested?

17 Mar

I have been struggling to write this post for weeks. Mainly because I fear that I am going to be in a minority and because I don’t deliberately want to upset anyone, so let me start by apologising to those of you who had a really great time and thought RootsTech was the best thing since sliced bread.

I surely can’t be the only genealogist that wasn’t really interested in what was happening at the RootsTech conference in the US last month. I read some of the blog posts, listened to a few interviews and even watched one of the presentations, but still I struggled to get excited or enthused about the conference.

To be honest I am still not really sure what the point of the whole thing was. Something to do with getting developers and genealogists talking to each other I guess, but was that really it? Perhaps it is just me not getting the message? Wasn’t there something about revolutionising genealogy as well?

One of the most worrying impressions that I did get was of a digital divide opening up between the followers of RootsTech and those like me who can’t afford or don’t want the latest gadgets and who don’t have the time to worry about what format they are going to share their data in.

Everything seems to be turning towards more collaboration and social networking these days, but what if you are quite happy working on your own. I am much happier working on my own, at my own pace, pursing things that interest me. I would much rather be in a record office carefully researching some distant relation than worrying about data formats or Twitter followers.

I am not against technology and there is obviously going a place for technology in genealogy, but to imagine that the world of genealogy is going to be revolutionised by RootsTech seems a little far fetched to me.

In my small corner of Sussex this researcher is not going to be investing in any new technology, at least not until something breaks and needs replacing. I will probably upgrade my current family history software when the latest version comes out, because I know how to use it, because I happen to think it is the best and because it doesn’t try to tell me how to think.

Perhaps I will get overlooked by hoards of more technologically advanced genealogists who will never cross my path and vice versa, but perhaps that is really all I deserve? Is there a place for me in the post-RootsTech world? And if there is do I really want it?

11 Responses to “RootsTech: Am I the only one that wasn’t really interested?”

  1. mike March 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    You did more than me – I didn’t read any blog posts about RootsTech, or hear any interviews or watch any presentations. It completely passed me by – and the world is still turning.

    • John Gasson March 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

      It didn’t completely pass me by, but I often wondered why I was bothering. Glad to know I am not completely on my own.

  2. Our Ancestral Trails March 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    I agree whole heartedly with you John. I didn’t even bother with all that Rootstech stuff. I checked out a link, skimmed over it and decided it wasn’t for me.

    I, like you, prefer to stick to the software I have used for many many years. It does what I want it to do and I’m happy with that.

    I do, however, take a great interest in backing up my genealogy everywhere after a nightmare happened and I lost it all one day. Fortunately, I had just sent a copy of it to my cousin in Essex (this is when I was living in Canada) and he was able to send me a copy of it back.

    If this is what Rootstech is about then I may be interested but right now I’m happy backing up my 40 or so years of research to DVD, CD, Ancestry, Rootsweb and an external hard drive.🙂

    Take care


    • John Gasson March 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      Thanks for your input Jayne. I think backups are one thing that technology is good for (and probably one aspect of RootsTech), but not something to get excited about.

      Like everything these days backup systems will evolve over the years, the key will be to keep up with the changes so one system doesn’t become obsolete.

  3. My Family History Research March 17, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Great post. Rootstech, also passed me by. I did read one or two posts (actually more skimmed them then read them), but that was about it and what I read really didn’t interest me.

    • andydadswell March 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

      Never heard of RootsTech, but I’m interested in technology so it would probably have been right up my street.

      Most developments in technology whether it be social networking or collaboration is that it is the young who learn to adopt and exploit it whilst those interested in genealogy tend to be a little bit more mature, and slow to adopt. Sweeping statements I know but probably largely true.

      The danger in using technology is that progress is achieved based on 2nd hand+ research, which still needs to be corroborated.

      We must all ask ourselves sometime, how do we preserve our research for future generations and I believe that we can only answer that question by the adoption of technology. We should at least try to consider how future generations would want to access our research, rather than rely on future generations being able to decode how we work now now. 10 years ago people were saving files onto floppy disks, now how many of us have access to a floppy disk drive ?

      • John Gasson March 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

        It is interesting that you mention future generations accessing our research Andy. Although future generations will hopefully be better equiped to access our work I am continually aware that the vast majority of the current generation that I want to share my research with are not as technologically advanced as me (i.e. they don’t have computers or internet access). Perhaps that is shaping my outlook more than I imagine.

    • John Gasson March 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, glad to hear I am not alone. For me the research is more important than the technology that does or doesn’t power it.

  4. geniaus March 19, 2011 at 12:32 am #


    I suspect that your were in the majority in regards to Rootstech. The genealogy world is made of of individuals who each have their favoured means of working and there is a place for everyone. I am, however, so pleased that you choose to blog about your experiences so that others can have the benefit of your knowledge and experience.

    As someone who has been bitten by the technology bug Rootstech was right up my alley; I had a wonderful time at the conference but I wouldn’t expect everyone else to share my enthusiasm.

    What a boring world it would be if we all marched to the beat of one drum.

    • John Gasson March 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

      You are right of course Jill, it would be a very boring world. I am just surprised that I seem to have heard so many comments that it is going to change the future of genealogy. Can a minority really have that much of an influence?

  5. mediawoman March 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    I loved RootsTech because I love technology. If I could buy every techno toy that came out, I would. I am also not opposed to “cloud computing”. However, I also respect and value that quiet, personal time working at my own pace on my own path.

    I suspect there are enough people who agree with you that you have no worries of a techno take over. The genealogy program that you use relies on input from users to get better. I suspect that you will someday appreciate some techno development that results from the genealogist talking to the program developer. We aren’t all involved in the space program, but we seem to enjoy the plastic wrap developed as part of that program. One small step for man.. =)

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