As at past RootsTech conferences, the expo hall had everything from the “big guys” — Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc. — to the start-ups and the one-person operations. There were scanning operations of all sorts along with paper scrapbooking. There were genetic testing companies and storytellers. There were the old, the young, the experienced, the novice, the techies, and the technologically-challenged.
In short, RootsTech looked like genealogy.
It’s easy to get caught up in the divisiveness of today’s society — the “us vs them” mentality. But as A.J. Jacobs pointed out in his keynote, “It isn’t us vs. them. It’s just us.”
I had hoped that after this year’s RootsTech, I wouldn’t hear the refrain that I’ve heard after the previous 5. “There’s too much ‘story’ and not enough genealogy.” “There’s too much genealogy and not enough tech.” “There are too many new people.”
Nothing can be all things to all people. To me, the beauty of RootsTech is that it comes closer to reflecting the genealogy community than any other event. There is something for everyone.
That exhibitor over there doesn’t have something of interest to you? That’s fine, there are 300+ more that might. That session is too basic for you or not techie enough? There are other sessions to go to that might better suit your interests.
Genealogy and family history are inherently personal. Because of that, each person comes to it with his or her own motivations and goals. The reason I do a DNA test might be different than the reason you take one. You might blog about your everyday life and the family stories you’re making now; I do not. I might want to track down all of the descendants of my great-great-grandparents; you might not.
And you know what? It’s ok.
The fact that someone over there prefers not to use DNA testing doesn’t make them bad. The person who delves deeply into recording the family stories doesn’t diminish the person who writes scholarly articles. It isn’t us vs. them. It’s just us.
I learned a lot about different apps, websites, and genealogy sources while I was at RootsTech. But for me, the biggest takeaway from RootsTech was a reminder that there really is room for everyone in genealogy.
You can view all of the recorded sessions including the keynotes for free on the RootsTech website.