RootsTech 2014
© 7 Feb 2014 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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My two talks, and reflections.


For whatever reason I have some idea of these reasons, but this is not the post for them. , there are no academic conferences addressing advances in family history technology. The closest we have is RootsTech, which combines a small number of technically-focussed talks with a large number of talks about how to use various tools and a reasonable sprinkling of totally tech-free talks to boot.

This year RootsTech devoted an entire day to “‍innovator‍” talks, being a mix of technical talks and non-technical talks for people in (or hoping to be in) the family history tool industry. This was a huge step forward from last year, when most of the techie people were manning a booth or giving a talk during all of the other techies’ talks.

I gave two talks this RootsTech. One, aimed at developers, was about my ongoing effort to design the perfect family history data model. You can get the slides and the data model diagram here. The other was about collaboration, its challenges, and how to mitigate the risks and amplify the benefits thereof; again, slides and the research process diagram are available. I also presented a more applied version of this second talk at the Hickory Family History Fair; those slides are here.

I also attended several interesting presentations, particularly some of the unconferencing panel discussions. But, as with last year, the real highlight was the conversations I had between sessions.

Last year I was introduced to a lot of names I had only read about by some of my associates in FHISO and had a chance to meet with many of the RootsDev core. This year I added to that a large set of developers interested in topics that align nicely with mine. We all know that collaboration and uncertainty are problems that we do not have good technical solutions to yet; my work inspired many to converse with me on this subject. I learned a lot, some of which I hope to post about later.

One very clear result was that we need better techniques for collaboration in both the short and long term. To revamp the underlying data model, as I propose, would take any of the major players many years of work; in the meantime, approaches to mitigate heated conflicts are needed. I have been focussed mostly on the long-term ideas thus far; the short-term ideas are ones I’ve now begun to contemplate.

Like any good conference, RootsTech proved food for though. I hope to write more of those thoughts here and elsewhere soon.

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