Opening Keynote Rootstech 2013As I attended Rootstech this year, the thought that kept running through my mind was “Hold on tight and don’t let go!”  It’s a phrase that stems from my younger days of riding the rides at amusement parks and, in many ways, trying to keep up with new technology and advances in genealogical research reminds me of those days.  Things are moving and changing rapidly and I feel a sense that if I don’t hang on tight, I will be left behind or worse—find myself lying clueless at the bottom of the “ride.”  I attended Rootstech  to learn about new technology and the records that are becoming available at a pace never before seen in the genealogy world.

Demo Theater Expo Hall Rootstech 2013
Demo Theater
Expo Hall

The first day of Rootstech, I had the opportunity to take a pre-conference tour of the Expo hall, along with other bloggers. The hall was much larger than last year, but once again packed full of interesting things to see and do. In addition, it was great to meet and visit with some of the bloggers that I have been “following.”  Prior to the opening keynote, I enjoyed visiting with Amy Coffin who writes the WeTree blog.  I picked her brain a bit, sharing some of  the challenges and uncertainties I have had with blogging and she was kind enough to share some of her thoughts and the things that experience has taught her. Thank you Amy. 

The keynote speakers each morning were fantastic and the classes that followed covered a variety of subjects including blogging, technology and methodology.  I enjoyed being able to take classes from Syd Lieberman, Lisa Louise CookeKaren Clifford,  and Thomas W. Jones,  in addition to others. 

Syd Lieberman Rootstech 2013
Syd Lieberman

One theme that was repeated many times over the course of the conference was the importance of sharing our stories.  It is the stories that attract and engage the younger generations and it is the stories that are most cherished over time.  In the opening keynote, Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch International, shared the thought that we often are frustrated by what our great grandparents did not do in terms of recording information for us, but then he went on to ask, what will our great grandchildren wish that we had recorded for them?  It made me think that so often I am so focused on past history, I neglect recording my own history for future generations. I need to do better!

As I sat through the various classes,  all vastly different in their subject matter, I kept asking myself, where do I want to go with my family history passion?  Where do I see myself five years from now?  What do I ultimately want to accomplish in family history?  What am I doing now to ensure that I stay on track with my goals? 

There are so many opportunities in family history and it is easy to become distracted. I really can’t do it all and, while taking a temporary detour in my path is just fine,  I also need to periodically check to make sure that I am still pursuing things consistent with my goals.

In addition to checking my course along my path of family history, I now realize more than ever that I will have to keep up with the technology and with new records continually being made available all the while chanting …..hold on tight and don’t let go.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013 

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5 thoughts on “Hold On Tight and Don’t Let Go! Thoughts from Rootstech

  1. This exact phrase stems from my younger days, too! We must both be
    Southerners, I guess. It's a good motto for lots of things in life.

    And I so agree about the continual scramble to keep up with the latest technology. It seems as though every week brings a new version of communication, faster than the last one. Thank goodness I have my hub and kids (grown now) and tech support for my constant questions . . . streaming questions for streaming video!

    It seems as if every day I have to make ruthless cuts about what searches NOT to start on, and what blogs NOT to read. I try for a sharp focus from my family history book–the South, racism, and how whites reacted to being slaveowners. That seems important to me, and the questions seem to carry over to today. Even then, there are far too many articles to read and ancestors' lives to discover . . .

    Well, I try to "hold on tight" one story at a time. That's what the blog format does for me. And your blog stories are really colorful. What characters!

  2. I always appreciate your comments Mariann. We do seem to have some commonalities, undoubtedly born of our common heritage. I too turn to my hub and kids (also grown) for direction on technology as they always seem to be at least one step ahead of me and generally much more than that. I love how your said, "streaming questions for streaming video"–so true!

    I have so many interests and sometimes I feel like I need to wear the horse blinders (or blinkers) to keep my eyes forward because there are so many interesting projects vying for my time, but you express it very wisely as "ruthless cuts" become essential. Thanks for your comments.

  3. I enjoyed reading this! I've not attended Rootstech,although I have participated in SLIG 11 times. I guess I'll have to try it.
    Mariann, I don't know you, but some of your thoughts hit home for me, with regard to what I am doing right now! I'm writing my family history in narrative, book form, based on research I have conducted over the past 18 years. Of course, this leads to finding holes in my research, so I get "sidelined" at times. But just yesterday, I got distracted, digging for hours into one of my ancestor's sibling's second wife's second husband, and their family, after my ancestor's sibling had died. Seems I got a little out of focus?
    Thanks for all the great comments, Michelle and Mariann!

  4. John I totally understand as I have done the same thing many times. I think as genealogist we are naturally curious and love a good chase. Mariann has written a book and has a great blog. You can check out both by clicking on her name above. Thanks for your comments.

  5. That's right, Michelle, you went! I forgot about that!

    RootsTech must have been a powerful experience. From my vantage point at home, working on my own research projects while taking momentary peeks at the Twitterstream for the conference hashtag, I can say the excitement was palpable, even from 700 miles away! My computer was radiating the vibes–and I wasn't even tuned in to the conference online!

    Good point about "where do I want to go with my family history passion?" You are already engaged in "telling the story" so you are one step ahead of the RootsTech theme there. It will be interesting to read how you want to refocus on your personal research mission within the context of that question. Looking forward to reading as you sort it all out…

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