RootsTech, Here I Come!!

Yes, it’s true.

Nothing like last minute decisions. Truthfully, RootsTech was an on-again off-again proposition for me, until a close friend told me that she won’t be needing her hotel room next door to the conference center. Now, her reservation is mine and my husband is booking flights.

It’s off to the race!

I’ve never attended RootsTech before. I’m not particularly fond of large conferences or large crowds, so RootsTech has never been a draw for me. Furthermore, I like the ancestor catch far more than the chase. For me, the chase is just a necessity and I don’t particularly enjoy that part.

I know you’re probably all laughing at me, because I do so much chasing. C’est la vie!

However, DNA changed all of that for me. I LOVE the DNA part of the chase. It speaks to the pushing-the-frontier-of-science nerdy part of my soul. I think I received the frontier-pushing gene from my ancestors.

DNA is such an incredibly personal thing to inherit. I can track pieces of it far back in time to ancestors I never knew and certainly don’t possess anything tangible that came from them – except for their DNA.

Not only that, but the same DNA is sharable, and shared, with many cousins who descended from those same ancestors. Pieces of my flesh and blood who lived and loved so long ago connecting those of us who live today. Meeting those myriad cousins, because of and through the DNA gifted to us by those very same ancestors – pure bliss!

Seriously, until the past few years, who could say they were introduced by their ancestors who were born in the 1600s or 1700s or even earlier with Y and mitochondrial DNA testing? DNA testing does that today.

Every. Single. Day.

As DNA testing has progressed, so have the vendors, tools and products that leverage our discoveries.

So, yes, the lure of genetics, genealogy and technology, all in one place is what has finally propelled me to RootsTech.

Are you attending? I’d love to meet you. Please, please find me, say howdy and introduce yourself. If we’re cousins, let me know. You can NEVER have too many cousins!

Here’s my picture, taken at the Dublin GGI Conference.  At RootsTech, I’ll be wearing some piece of DNA clothing every day.  And yes, I DO have enough DNA clothes to wear something different every day of the conference!

You can also recognize me by my signature “wisdom blonde” hair or maybe my special DNA bag. I can’t wait to meet you.

I’ll be blogging and covering the conference “from the floor,” your embedded DNA Reporter😊

Hope to see you there – but if you can’t attend, watch the free live-streamed sessions and of course, DNA-explained articles for news.

39 thoughts on “RootsTech, Here I Come!!

  1. Glad too hear that you are coming!!!!
    I volunteer for this conference!!!! I can understand the crowd part. This year I will be part of the discovery zone. Hope you have fun and hippie to see you there

  2. I realize because of the strap that you’ve created a large bag in which to carry your conference stuff. I originally thought it was a long vest with biggggg pockets on each side, so you’d be hands free! Just a thought for future conferences….two giant pockets to load😁!

  3. I hope you have a wonderful time at the conference! Speaking of DNA, do you know of any good resources that would teach learning to recognize which specific SNPs are most likely to be signicant ones – basically a primer to understanding the position and meaning of each of the different SNPs? I am a new project administrator and I need to be able to learn to do this. Thanks so much!

  4. Uggg! Salt Lake City is over there, and I still live over here in New England where most of my ancestors arrived. Oh well, my conference time will come eventually in Boston, Hartford, or New York.

  5. … so you finally go to SLC, just “after” I move…giggling. Still glad you are attending, and learning the 8000+ person shuffle. Be prepared for Saturday, it’s worse than LAX at Christmas.

    Now, if you ever venture to Northern California, dinner’s is on me.

    Oh, and by the way, I just returned from a cousin’s luncheon in Castro Valley, CA. One cousin was just finishing up her swabbing, when two more sat down next to me, wanting to test and asking “what do we need to do?” I was so disappointed, I didn’t even have the chance to say “No Testy – No Beer.” … and yes, I do listen to you, I came prepared with a purse full of DNA Holiday Sale Family Finder Kits ! Now ALL my “husbands” first cousins have tested.

    Enjoy !

  6. Have a great time, Roberta! I’ve been to SLC many times to SLIG and just to research, but never to RootsTech. Maybe someday, but I’m not big on crowds, either.

    Surprised to read that you like “catching the ancestor more than the chase”. It’s all in the chase for me. I’ve caught so many ancestors that I have to chase collaterals and other peoples ancestors just so I’ll have someone to chase :-)! That isn’t true with DNA, though … I love “catching cousins”.

    Nancy

  7. I will be attending again this year as I have every year so far. The crowds are crazy but the classes, the networking, seeing friendly faces in person instead of online and many more reasons make it totally worth it.
    Not sure the forecasted weather for that week but we do have snow covered yards right now here in Northern Utah so it will be cold so prepare accordingly. Hope to see you there!
    ❄️ ☃️ ❄️ ⛄️ ❄️ ☃️ ❄️ ⛄️ ❄️

  8. My RootsTech 2018 Review:

    Just returned from RootsTech, the monster genealogy convention in Salt Lake City. The presentations and exhibitors were amazing, as were the keynote speakers. Jason Hewlett, the emcee for the week was exceptionally good. The presenters were world-class, and material offered greatly beneficial.

    The breakout sessions, which ranged from 14-20 per time slot, offered an amazing breadth of subject matter, and presenters were among the best in the industry from all over the world.

    The Salt Palace is certainly a world-class facility, on par with any of the conventions centers in the USA. It is clean, well-lit, and well maintained. I am told there were about 32,000 attendees, certainly not too many for the size of the Salt Palace, but far too many for the breakout sessions offered.

    The paper syllabus (at $50), was nearly 2 inches thick as was heavy enough to throw out a shoulder. The $10 thumb drive was far preferable, though not knowing this prior to the event meant leaving the syllabus at my hotel. Having purchased the thumb drive, I doubt I will ever look at the volume-sized paper syllabus.

    The RootsTech smartphone app was excellent but failed to integrate with the live event sufficient enough to inform the user that a given breakout session was already full, forcing 10-15 minute walks in the opposite direction to try and find an open session- only to be turned away again- extremely frustrating.

    Getting into breakout sessions was a bit of a fiasco with the new scanning of individual name-tags for every session. Lines to get into sessions blocked the main thoroughfare creating gridlock at times, and it was often necessary to arrive in the line up to an hour before the start of a session in order to get in, as attendees who skipped the earlier time slot session were already waiting in line for upcoming sessions. Some sessions actually had empty seats, even though the door monitors refused entry, as their scanning software said the session was full.

    Food lines at lunchtime were horrendous, also blocking the main convention center aisle for those simply trying to exit sessions, move to the Expo, or even leave the facility. Restrooms became overly crowded during breaks and floors could not be kept clean and free of excessive water at times.

    Overall, the event was exceptionally good, and I will return, provided the planners address these issues. Of greatest importance, would be to either increase the number of breakout sessions per timeslot or increase the size of the rooms they were offered in. Overall, for a conference of this type, i.e., where people are moving about between breakout sessions, and all trying to purchase lunch from onsite vendors, in my own assessment, 32,000 participants is simply too may attendees for this venue; either raise the price, cut off the registration at approximately 25,000 total, or select a larger venue. Or, take advantage of the entire venue, including the food vendor area at the back of the Expo.

    By all means:

    1. Take advantage of the data acquired from the scanning fiasco to increase the size of the rooms where sessions were full;

    2. Use the online registration to determine the level of interest in the various breakout sessions so as to select room sizes based on attendee interest at the time of online registration;

    3. Upgrade the RootsTech app to provide instantaneous information on breakout sessions, i.e., inform users of the app that a session is full so attendees are not wandering around a huge facility looking for an open session, only to use up the entire time slot, never finding a session to attend;

    4. BETTER STILL: Allow attendees to select their breakout sessions at the time of online registration (or at any time after registering, but before the actual conference), so as to guarantee a seat for those who have the foresight to pre-register into breakout sessions, then allow for sufficient additional seating for those who make their breakout decisions after arriving for the conference; regardless of how you do this, by all means, allow people to BOOK their breakout sessions either ONLINE or on the APP (OR BOTH) so attendees are not turned away from sessions they specifically attended RootsTech in order to attend;

    5. DO NOT prevent people from entering breakout sessions early- this created terrible human traffic gridlock in the main aisles of the facility; DO NOT have the lines to enter sessions extend out into the main aisle of the convention center- this was horrible! Use alternative entrances to the various sessions so that people exiting a session are unable to exit because the line to reenter is blocking the exit pathway; Do not make attendees who have preregistered for sessions that are in the same room as their next session leave the room, only to get into a line where they will not be admitted for the next session because it fills up before they can gain access to the next session.

    6. I noticed that the Food Vendor area INSIDE the EXPO arena was completely empty! BIG MISTAKE! Move the food, i.e. lunch vendors out of the convention center main aisle so that the lunch lines don’t block the entire event, shutting down foot traffic in the main aisle completely.

    7. Move all of the vendors who had booths in the main aisle out of that thoroughfare, and either into the EXPO area or someplace where the lines those vendors create don’t cause gridlock in the main aisle of the convention center;

    8. Add at least one additional RootsTech information booth closer to the N. Temple entrance of the facility (such as close to the area where the photo contest took place- maybe on that upper level, or close to the bag and coat check area) so that attendees are not forced to try and navigate the main aisle all the way to the far end of the facility just to ask RootsTech related questions. There were at least 3-4 different information booths throughout the convention center that offered Salt Palace information, but none of these people had a clue concerning RootsTech. Place a RootsTech info person (along with the Salt Palace info people) at each of these booths.

    9. Plan on sufficient custodial personnel to ensure that restroom facilities remain clean and fully stocked at all times- dirty or unsanitary restrooms, especially excessive water on the floors of stalls are a major turnoff.

    10. Never again, try to institute a new procedure, such as nametag scanning for breakout sessions without knowing the possible outcomes, i.e. gridlock, unwieldy lines, sessions where there were empty seats and monitors were turning away attendees (YES, it happened often- as monitors did not see empty seats in the middle of rows, etc.); get your research on new ideas from places where it has been done before; in my very first breakout session with Diahan Southard and Lisa Louise Cooke, the session was delayed for more than 30 minutes, as monitors fist forced hundreds of attendees already seated to leave the room, creating a horrendous unmanageable crowd outside the session, then shouted to the crowd to go back in- failing to scan nametags at all in the process. Major fiasco during the opening breakout session of the entire week- left a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of everyone.

    Finally, RootsTech was an awesome experience- great event- will plan on returning- but please fix the issues listed above.

    Respectfully submitted.

    • I certainly hope your comments are well taken by the organizers and sponsors, i.e., the “stakeholders,” danapereau! And you did an awesome job of keeping your critique positive. But sometimes it takes a really angry review to touch a nerve–the particular nerve that can lead to the level of discomfort it takes for those with the power to make the change, to make the change. I’ll be the first to admit I did have some positive experiences at RootsTech 2018, but I will never go to another one. Again, I wouldn’t trade my total experience–it’s just like life–you take the good with the bad. But, wow, that was sorta bad. Thanks Roberta, for allowing us the forum to air this. 🙂

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