The Visionary Mr. Verkler

Thursday’s keynote address was another one to remember… Jay Verkler (former CEO of Family Search and probably the single person most responsible for the existence of the RootsTech conference) was, as always, informative, fascinating and thought provoking. His talk focused on the world as it will exist in the year 2060, and how our vision of how things might be should be used to influence what we do today.

That served as a nice lead-in for a mind blowing demonstration by Google. They (Google) had a few people at last year’s RootsTech and they walked away wondering why Google wasn’t doing more to improve their search capabilities for the Genealogical community. And then they did something about it.

Their demo showed the potential for an emerging Microdata standard that probably will revolutionize how we search for genealogical information. They also demonstrated a soon to be released add-on for their Chrome browser that will take great advantage of web data that incorporates the Microdata mark-up tools.

The demo also showed the amazing influence this conference has already had in its short life. I can’t help but wonder what spark of imagination this years conference has ignited…

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Un-Conferences are alive and well at RootsTech 2012!

My “Genealogical Society Webmasters” group was small but motivated, vocal and very knowledgeable. We had an outstanding discussion about a wide variety of topics that are affecting us all. At the end we agreed to establish a closed FaceBook group so we could continue the conversation after the conference ends. We also hope to expand the conversation to other genealogical society webmasters…. Anybody interested in more information should contact Tony Hanson.

UnConference Sign Up Board

I sat in on another Unconference hosted by Randy Whited and John Wiley titled “State Societies and Those who Support Local Societies”. This group discussed strategies that national and state/regional societies can implement to work more closely with local societies.

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The Conference Within The Conference

One of the features of RootsTech that really impressed me last year was their UnConference sessions. They set aside a few rooms and let people sign up to discuss a topic of their choice on a white board (at a TECHNOLOGY conference… I love it!)

I was happy to see that they are continuing the UnConference again this year and decided to give it a try myself with a session focused on Genealogical Society Webmasters. I created a Family Search Wiki page (see it here) to promote the idea, and just reserved my room (257) for 12:00 tomorrow (Thursday). I’ll let you know how it goes….

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DGS Members At RootsTech

The DGS will be well represented again at RootsTech. In addition to having a large group of members as attendees we also have two members who were selected as presenters. Both were presenters at the 2011 event as well.

  • Kathleen Murray (along with her co-presenter Tara Carlisle from the University of North Texas) will presenting a session titled “Mining Newspaper Archives” at 11:00 (MST) on Thursday.
  • Sandra Crowley is presenting a “Genealogists ‘Go Mobile’” session at 2:45 (CST) on Friday in a presentation that RootsTech has selected to stream live to the public.

Watch this blog for posts from the conference throughout the week.

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RootsTech II

It is hard to believe that almost a year has gone by since RootsTech 2011… being there was exciting, educational and motivating, and I, like many others, came home ready to try to make a difference in our on-line presence.

I have since learned the basics of creating on-line presentations and have made several available. The chosen topics reflect the RootsTech influence: Blogs, Creating Web Presentations, Hardware and Software for the New Genealogist, Photography, Scanning, Twitter and Wiki’s.

The information available on our web site has continued to expand.  We recently introduced a new cemetery database search tool  and have just passed the 20,000 record milestone (with more coming!). And we recently expanded our on-line presence by creating a Twitter account (@DGStx).

The hard work has paid off: Our site was recently awarded first place in the ‘Partner Society Website Design’ competition by the Texas State Genealogical Society.

I will be attending RootsTech 2012 with a larger group of DGS members and will again be posting thoughts from the conference from myself (and others, I hope) on this blog. I wonder what I will learn and how it will influence the next year…

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Hardware & Software for the New Genealogist

A recording of the “Hardware and Software for Beginning Genealogists” presentation made by DGS Webmaster Tony Hanson at last October’s “Do You Know Who You Are?” workshop is now available on-line. See it now by clicking here. Be sure to see the Technology SIG page for several other informative (and free!) presentations.

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Society Online Intellectual Property Ownership

Does your society own all of the intellectual property contained on your website? How do you know?

When your society publishes a book, there usually is no doubt about intellectual property ownership.  But who owns the rights to the Surname Registry on your web site? What about the program written to provide access to your cemetery records? If your webmaster resigned from your society today, could s/he demand that you stop using code they developed?

As societies increasingly expand their on-line presence it is vital that these concerns be addressed. Members of the Dallas Genealogical Society can rest easy knowing that a formal agreement exists between their Webmaster and the Board of Directors.

In the interest of helping to raise this as an area of concern that should be considered by other societies, the DGS is making a copy of their generic agreement publicly available (View it by clicking here) and granting permission for others to use it as starting point for their own document.

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January Technology SIG Meeting to Focus on Twitter

Join DGS Webmaster Tony Hanson at the next Technology SIG meeting to learn about Twitter:

  • Understand how to read and send Tweets
  • Learn how the DGS plans to use Twitter to expand its on-line presence
  • Know how to use Twitter to be a more active participant at RootsTech (and other genealogy conferences)
  • Follow the activities of the DGS on Twitter at @DGStx

When: Thursday, January 5 at 6:30 pm

Where: In the Studio Room on the 3rd Floor of the Dallas Public Library (Directions).

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DGS Seeks Newsletter Editor

The Dallas Genealogical Society is looking for a motivated and qualified individual to act as the Editor of the DGS newsletter.  Become a part of our active Publications committee… See the job description for details.

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Record Their Stories

You may want to check into this new iPhone/iPad/iPod app before you travel for the holidays.  It allows you to plan, script, and record an interview with family members.

It is so new that there are no reviews yet on the iTunes App Store, but it looks very promising.  I have not yet tested it, but will update this blog post when I do.

From the publisher’s web page:

When you open the app and enter the names of the participants, you’ll find our ‘Questions List’ page.  You can write your own list of questions or select from over a hundred suggestions. Once you’re happy with your questions list, you can access the microphone and begin your recording.  At any time during your recording you can press the question mark to see your list and remind yourself of all the things you wanted to ask.  Once it’s all recorded you can go to our simple Edit page to trim your recording or add to it if you wish.

Will be interested to learn if anyone tries it out at family get-togethers.

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