My Adventures at RootsTech – The Kick-off – Innovator Summit


Wednesday was the Innovator Summit. This was the technological side of the conference. The Keynote Speaker was Liz Wiseman and she was a fantastic speaker. She was inspirational. The main takeaway from her keynote was “a rookie moment.” A rookie moment is a time when you are doing something brand new and have no experience with the project. You take baby steps and ask lots of questions so your knowledge base grows and you gain your experience. Is there a job/project where you didn’t know what you were doing but you jumped in anyway and succeeded? Liz had us share a rookie moment with the person beside us. The person beside me was a chap from Vancouver BC who was there to do research on an idea he has for a future Innovator Summit.

Liz Wiseman provided questions to answer to help us focus on those moments. Rookie moments provide a feeling of discomfort in us which is a catalyst to help us grow. She encouraged us to throw away our notes and to ask naïve questions. Ask the questions of a toddler – Why? How? Who says? We need to surf with the amateurs and learn something new.


You can watch Liz Wiseman’s keynote on the RootsTech website.


The next session was Innovation and Industry Trends. This was the expert panel discussion. The panel consisted of Ben Bennett; Craig Bott, Grow Utah; Heather Holmes, TapGenes; Nick Jones, JRNL, Inc; Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch.



The principles to keep in mind are: differentiate; build products that people want; don’t reinvent the wheel; and sharing is caring.


TapGenes, last year’s winner of the Innovator Showdown, have a new app called Genivity which connects health and health care costs. It helps people balance both issues.



Robert Kehrer from FamilySearch said that there will be a greater need for indexers in the future. New items that are coming are fuzzy search advancements and process innovation.



Next it was the Innovator Showdown semi-finals. The semi-finalists were: JoyFlips a photo archiver for your devices; Cuzins app; Crowd Sourced Indexing – CSI a transcription project management tools for societies and user groups; Kindex which gathers records into a single digital archives where you can transcribe, tag records and eventually share it; Roots Finder app which makes it easy to share and expand your family history with other family members; Champollion 2.0 manages archival or ancient documents; Emberall is a mobile app that will help you record, organize, store and share life stories; Canada’s own Double Match Triangulator which combines two different chromosome browser results to give you the Double Match Triangulator information; QuormaTag allows you to add a date, location and people that are found in a digital picture; OldNews USA uses the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection. It create suggestions on where you may find some information. When you view the page the search term is highlighted. The app automatically zooms into the next match. It seemed like the judges had a hard decision to make.


The next session I attended was a panel discussion entitled: How will DNA Continue to Disrupt Our Industry? The panel were CeCe Moore, Angie Bush, and Dr. Scott Woodward. Now people go straight to DNA before doing the paper research. DNA tells us things the paper trail can’t. DNA can help those who do not have access to their genealogy. Everyone will find an end to the paper trail but the DNA trail will go on. There is still a huge demand and need for DNA educational resources. We have been carrying the DNA markers from our family tree for 1000 years. The more people you have triangulating a common ancestor the better. Ideally what we want to do is map out the chromosomes of the DNA matches and be told exactly who the common ancestor is but we are not able to do that – yet!


My last session of the day was: Organizing your Genealogy Files and Correspondence with Drew Smith. The room filled up quickly and he started the presentation but five minutes into it they found a larger room and we moved there to finish up the session. Design your own systems for organizing but there are some basic principles. The main one is to keep it simple. Paper, computer files, binders or a combination of any of them – it is up to you. When organizing your binder organize by first name then chronologically. Once you decide on your filing system it will still continue to evolve and change.



Wednesday night was the RootsTech Welcome Party. It was great fun and the finalists of the Innovator Showdown were announced. They were: Champollion 2.0; Double Match Triangulator; Emberall; Kindex; OldNews USA.


You can view Wednesday live streaming on the RootsTech website.

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