Feb 132015

After the excitement of Wednesday, Thursday was going to be more of the same, albeit with a slightly later start. The Keynote was to start at 8:30am. At 8:15am there was a loooooooooong line of many hundreds of people still waiting to get their name tags and paraphernalia from the Registration Booth.

The keynote started off with a senior vice-president from Family Search making some introductions. Then the faces of “Genealogy Roadshow” – FGS President Josh Taylor, Kenyatta Berry and Mary Tedesco appeared on stage to talk about Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Preserve the Pensions project, which Josh proudly announced has now reached 50% of the $3,200,000 needed to complete this project.

Dennis Brimhall from FamilySearch then gave a presentation on some of the exciting new things that FamilySearch are doing, and demonstrated the “Museum of Me” which uses a lot of new technology to help people be interested in researching their families. This is well summarised in this article.

The highlight of the keynote was undoubtedly the presentation by Tan Le – a co-founder of the company Emotiv Systems – an Australian electronics company developing brain–computer interfaces based on electroencephalography (EEG) technology. She didn’t talk much about this, but instead told the completely spellbinding tale of her escape from Vietnam as a girl aged 5 years in 1982 with her younger sister, their mother and grandmother, the perils of the journey in a small boat, and eventual arrival in Melbourne, Australia where she grew up and went on to become Young Australian of the Year in 1988 – just wow!!!!!

My first class of the day was Maureen Taylor’s “Is That Uncle Harry or Jesse James: Facial Recognition Tools for the Genealogist”. As expected from The Photo Detective, she had a great array of old photos to show, and also gave me a “shout out” for the screen shots I’d given her showing how iPhoto (on Mac OS X) works with Faces to find and help you identify the same people in different photos. There was some interesting stuff, including other products and services I’d not heard of before, and some interesting failures, like her example where she was photographed in front of a wall covered in flowery wallpaper, and when she asked Google Image Search to find similar pictures, it focussed on the flowers, not the person in the foreground.

Lisa has been working hard at the Family History Library on research for her own families, and families of some of our friends, but she broke from that to come over and have lunch with me in the Expo Hall.

After lunch I wandered the Expo Hall, finding familiar faces from the past and looking at new offerings and services. One that caught my eye was RootsBid. From their website “an online genealogy marketplace that helps you find records of your ancestors by connecting you with people around the world who live in your ancestral homelands. You just request help and attach your desired budget, check your bids, and hire your preferred bidder. Its that easy!!” So it’s somewhat like Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, but it’s monetised with people paying for services. This might encourage more people to help out. There’s a feedback system like Ebay uses so you can get an idea of the value and helpfulness of a person who might bid to do your  work for you before you accept and pay them. I was intrigued by this, and it will be interesting to see how this develops.

For the 3rd session of the day, I was again an FGS Volunteer Room Monitor – this time for Maureen Taylor during her presentation “Stetsons, Chaps, Prairie Bonnets and Levi’s: Western Dress Clues”. Again a great collection of historical photos to demonstrate her points and quite interesting how what we today think of as “western dress” developed.

After this it was a bit more time in the Expo Hall, before meeting up with Drew Smith, Luther Tychonievich, and Greg Lamberson for a FHISO (Family History Information Standards Organisation) Board informal meeting. This was the first time any of us had met Greg who up until now had participated by loooong distance from his job in Egypt.

The day ended up with the FGS Opening Social – a musical event that featured the One Voice Children’s Choir, Alex Boyé, and included a performance of the YouTube hit (61,000,000 views on YouTube) of “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen” feature Alex Boyé and Lexi Walker.

Fish and Chips for Dinner. Below is a photogallery of some of the things seen today.

  2 Responses to “FGS 2015 and RootsTech – Thursday”


    Great rundown of the day. And fabulous pics.

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