This morning view just doesn’t get old!
Across the rooftop, you can see two churches in front of the mountain.
Day 2 was jam packed, and that’s without attending any sessions. I did hear through the RootsTech grapevine that some of the afternoon sessions did have a few seats available. Of course, you would need to select the right sessions.
There’s a lot of very unhappy rumbling here about the conference: lines, full sessions, lack of signage, etc.
I spent the day doing four things:
- Visiting vendor booths
- Talking to people
- MyHeritage Lunch
- Vendor appointments
Let’s take a look at each of the four.
There are probably hundreds of booths. Some quite large, of course, like FamilySearch (show sponsor), Ancestry and the other big players, to Mom and Pop shops.
I managed to visit maybe half of the booths today. I’ll try for the other half tomorrow. I am going to make myself absent for part of the day to visit the Family History Library.
I noticed a LOT of vendors offering products to digitize and catalog your photos. Others encouraged recording memories and of course, given that we’re in Salt Lake, there was lots of focus on the Mormon faith and many obviously local vendors.
In addition to the sessions, there was a vendor demo area in the rear of the hall. I wandered past a couple of times, but the two vendors I saw didn’t really catch my eye.
At the Legacy Tree Genealogists booth, I found Jessica Taylor (at left, beside me), Paul Woodbury and Amber Brown (far right). (I apologize for not getting the lady’s name at the far left.) Jessica is the owner and founder of Legacy Tree Genealogists, Paul Woodbury is the amazing genetic genealogist that specializes in adoptee and missing parent family reconstruction and Amber Brown is their marketing representative. They were kind enough to give me with a RootsTech survival basket. I’ve never been to a conference before where you needed one of these, and by the end of the day, I was extremely grateful.
A really big thank you Jessica and crew!
Next, I ran into my old friend, Peter Roberts, at the conference as a volunteer for WikiTree, a free site for you to upload your family tree and collaborate with other genealogists. I’ve known Peter for years from the Family Tree DNA annual conference where he is the project administrator for the Bahamas DNA Project.
Peter took the time to sit down with me and explain some of the new DNA features at WikiTree that include Y DNA, mitochondrial, autosomal and most recently, the ability to link your WikiTree tree to your DNAPainter profile. WikiTree utilizes various types of DNA information to support or disprove ancestral connections.
Peter and I also discussed that putting information like links to any articles or blog posting you have written about your ancestors into the description area about each ancestor would be a great idea! I was thinking about the 52 Ancestors series, of course.
I briefly met Chris Whitten, founder of WikiTree, but I wasn’t quick enough to grab a photo.
Speaking of DNAPainter, Jony Pearl, from England, won the Innovation Showcase with DNAPainter. I’ve been using this extremely useful tool for about a month now, and I have an article half written. I’ll be finishing it as soon as I get home. You’re going to love this tool!
Congratulations Jony! Well deserved.
This conference has lots of beginners. FamilySearch had a very large area called the Discovery Zone. Just walking past, I did notice people entirely engrossed and making discoveries.
One of the Discovery Zone areas encouraged you to take your photo, or a group photo, with a backdrop of your choice.
I couldn’t resist. Plus, it’s free and the results are messaged to your phone immediately.
I was amazed to find this backdrop, given that I have actually stood in exactly this place in Germany – in real life. In fact, I can tell you there are two lovely lace shops just past that clock tower arch, one on either side of the street, and a quilt shop just beyond. In fact it was right here that the quilt shop-owner’s husband came riding up on his bicycle to deliver our purchases at the end of the day.
A few minutes later, I came across MYndVault, a digital cloud storage solution that includes servers stores in the granite mountain.
To prove his point, the founder of MYndVault was giving little boxes of granite – well, chocolate that looked like granite anyway. The chocolate was great – and everyone needs to think about this type of “inheritance issue.” It’s not just cloud storage, but an electronic directive that lists your personal representative, things like social media accounts and passwords. Obviously, I suggested that he add a specific field for DNA results at vendors, but there is already ample room to include this in non-specific fields.
There were lots of “charts” vendors in attendance, but I particularly liked this one from BranchesArt.
I’ve been wanting to meet Lara Diamond, who blogs at Lara’s Jewnealogy. Lara is Jewish and specializes in endogamous DNA and the inherent frustrations therein.
The lovely thing about meeting in person is that you actually get to talk to the individual. Lara tested with 23andMe initially and it was that test (before the FDA restricted the information they could provide to consumers) that led her to discover she had both a mutation for cancer, and cancer itself. Take a minute and read Lara’s story here. DNA testing very literally saved her life!
Lara will be writing about a super-cool record find soon that defies all logic. Right, Lara, right???
Next was the MyHeritage lunch, where I was thrilled to meet Randy Seaver, finally, in person.
My joke is that I wake up each morning to Randy, because that’s when I read his blog, Genea-Musings, every day. Randy writes more quality content than any other blogger I know. In fact, he has a great compendium of RootsTech conference articles that you can check out on his blog yesterday and today.
Gilad and I had a personal meeting later in the day, and he gave me permission to share the slides from the luncheon with my readers.
I must say, MyHeritage is making very big waves in the genealogy community.
For a company that just started DNA testing about 18 months ago, and had significant startup challenges with matching, they’ve come a very, very long way.
First, Gilad announced a new initiative to test 15,000 adoptees or those seeking unknown parents by donating free kits. You can read more about this program here or apply to receive a kit. Those with financial need will receive priority.
Third, they announced the publication of a paper culminating from 7 years of research, published today, discussing 86 million family trees from Geni and the patterns that emerge from this much data about migration and families. For example, exceptional genetics only adds abut 5 years to life expectancy, but poor lifestyle habits can deduct 10.
They are on a tear, I’m telling you. They weren’t done yet.
Fourth, they announced that they are adding new records at an amazing pace. Three new collections, including the digitization and indexing of high school yearbooks from the US.
Fifth – new advancements in genetic genealogy.
MyHeritage has observed that many people don’t understand the details of genetic genealogy or how to use the tools. Additionally, many people don’t have or create family trees.
MyHeritage has created what they call “The Big Tree” where all of their customers are connected in one large “tree of humanity,” or at least as much of humanity as has tested or uploaded to MyHeritage. They then look at how your own node is connected to others in that large tree and distill the results into something useful for you.
The next step, Gilad calls the “Theory of Family Relativity,” where MyHeritage combines your DNA matches, their trees and documents from their collection to construct a theoretical tree between you and your matches.
The connection may need to go up and down other people’s trees a couple of times, and may be discovered in the tree of someone you both match.
In summary, “The Theory of Family Relativity” will provide a paper trail theory for how you match your DNA matches. That theory will be for you to confirm or disprove. Gilad says that it’s easier with a tree, but can be accomplished at some level even without one AND it will be released before year end 2018.
Sixth, a new triangulated chromosome browser that compared up to 7 people simultaneously.
Downloads are being added as well.
MyHeritage is focusing a marketing drive in Europe. Their market research revealed that in Germany (I think,) only 22% of the population had even heard of DNA testing. Their goal is to infiltrate that market space.
France Gilad…focus on France😊
Gilad has christened 2018 “The Year of the Segment.”
And as if that wasn’t enough, Gilad added even MORE items.
- Paper trail theories and connections to explain DNA matches.
- Theories genetically of how your matches connect to you.
- Clustering of triangulated segments.
- Automatic chromosome painting.
- Identification and recreation of ancestors through the testing of multiple descendants by creating an “ancestral segment bank,” of sorts.
- Resurrecting the DNA of dead ancestors which would be made into a kit for matching. For example, your grandfather.
- Automatic tree building.
If you’re sitting there with your mouth hanging open in shock…well, so was I. This is what I’ve talked about for years, now coming to fruition.
Gilad credits these strides to a combination of vision, applied technology and very smart people!
All of these development items are either in beta or past proof of concept. Some are available now, some shortly, the “Tree of Family Relativity” by the end of 2018.
Truthfully, I don’t even know what to say after that massive announcement, except transfer your DNA results to MyHeritage. If you ever had doubt, it’s gone now.
In the Innovation Showcase competition, obviously DNAPainter won first place, but the rest of the entrants also deserve recognition. Rootsfinder and ItRunsInMyFamily took second and third. You may want to go and take a look for yourself.
- MatchCompare https://sortingdnacousins.blogspot.ca/
- Gno-mine http://gno-mine.com/
- ItRunsInMyFamily http://www.itrunsinmyfamily.com/
- Origins (Lillian and David Mann) http://www.heirloomsoftware.com/origins/
- RootsFinder (Dallan Quass) http://www.rootsfinder.com/
I have not had a chance to review these myself, so you’ll have to let me know what you think.
Apparently LivingDNA made an announcement as well. Many vendors make private appointments with bloggers, movers and shakers at RootsTech. In the past few days I’ve been fortunate enough to have private meetings with Ancestry, Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage. Living DNA is not on that list. I did stop by their booth today, but the right people weren’t there.
We’ve known for some time that matching was to be released in 2018, but we didn’t know that LivingDNA planned to reconstruct trees from genetic data alone, with no trees or other information involved.
You can read the announcement for yourself here.
I don’t anticipate that I’ll have the opportunity to meet with a Living DNA representative to garner additional information, unfortunately.
I would be more comfortable with this goal if they had matching experience at all. MyHeritage, with their early out-the-door matching issues is proof of how difficult it can be to get matching right.
I also feel matching and tree reconstruction will be much more accurate with a blend of trees, documents and DNA.
However, Living DNA is giving it a shot, and everyone has to start someplace. I will be very interested in what their new product will look like and how well it will work.
On the way out the door this evening, I noticed a bunch of teenagers who had obviously been to the conference, having fun.
Various vendors give away ribbons to attach to the bottom of your badge.
These kids had obviously been very busy. I enjoy seeing young people having good clean fun, and especially if those young people are the future of genealogy!