It’s always fun to see everyone in Houston. I’ve never been a big “joiner.” No, I didn’t go to my high school class reunion. But this, well, it’s different. Many of us have been in this foxhole together for a decade now. It’s like old home week. And what is really amazing to me is how many of these people, over the years, I’ve discovered that I’m related to in one way or another.
I have received a couple of questions that I’d like to answer. One person asked if this conference is available to everyone. The answer is no. It is held and subsidized by Family Tree DNA and its focused on their project administrators. We, as a group, have to stay educated in order to educate and guide others appropriately. So this is not a conference for beginners, although, clearly, everyone has to start someplace. Many genealogy conferences now include DNA sessions and DNA tracks. If you’re unhappy about this, it’s easy to volunteer to assist an administrator for any project of your choice, and then you’ll be eligible to attend.
Are they recording the conference? No, they aren’t. Many or most of the speakers work in this field and not everyone is willing to have their sessions made public. Furthermore, my experience with recording conferences, especially where there is not an auditorium or studio environment is that the audio/video is quite poor.
Is there a “boot camp” for new people? There isn’t, per se, but Family Tree DNA does offer free webinars periodically which are announced on their website, facebook and other media sources. I would encourage people to take advantage of these opportunities.
Another change from previous conferences is that Family Tree DNA will be tweeting directly from the conference.
Now for the report on tonight’s reception.
It’s always great to see some new people. It seems that every year, about 30% of the faces are new. I see some folks that are repeats from the “new” group last year, which always makes me feel good. Many of us really try to make sure the new folks feel included. Katherine Borges and I were trying to figure out who has attended all 9 conferences, and we could only come up with 2 people in addition to ourselves. However, there are a lot of people who started attending the second year and have been with us ever since.
Family Tree DNA has brought new people on board through their acquisition of Arpeggi this last year and many of those folks were here this evening. They are excited about the new opportunities in genetic genealogy. We’ll be hearing more from Jason Wang, Chief Technology Officer, David Mittleman, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (a geneticist by the way), Nir Leibovich, Chief Business Officer and Rudy Marsh, Director of Product later in the conference.
I finally got to meet Marja Pirttivaara in person. She came from Finland for the conference and will be speaking tomorrow about Bridging Social Media and DNA. Sadly, her session is the same time as mine so I won’t be able to attend hers:(
I blogged about the serendipitous moment when Marja and I discovered that we share a common ancestor in some distant misty place in Europe. It was so wonderful to actually get to meet her in person. I was so excited, I forgot to get a photo, but I will before the end of the conference.
Towards the end of the evening, I caught up with Katherine Borges, founder and Director of ISOGG. It’s always wonderful to see Katherine. That’s her and I taking “selfies” above. I noticed that Katherine had changed clothes from earlier in the evening. The room was quite warm. Looking at her, I realized that she was wearing these kind of ribbon wrapped sandals where the ribbons wrapped up her legs. They were cool in a California sort of way. Then, I saw them. Yep….I had to look closer to be sure I really did see what I thought I saw.
One thing about Katherine, you can always count on her passion for genetic genealogy, and also her passion for fun. Yes indeed, it’s good to be back in Houston. It’s going to be a great conference.