RootsTech’s 2022 theme “Choose Connection” created a simple bottom line for the world’s largest family history conference – it’s all about connection! This year, possibly more than any other year that RootsTech has been around, people were hungry to connect with others. RootsTech organizers realized this early on, making connections easy and fun.
The keynote speakers were from all around the world. However, we had a taste of who they were before the conference ever started because prerecorded videos gave us a sneak peek of their lives and their stories. Those videos were unveiled in the few months leading up to the conference.
As the conference opened, we were treated to a freshly-penned song, “Choose Connection” by Jonathon Wing, manager of main stage programs. This catchy tune and music video took us back in time to reveal the importance of connection in all of its forms. Then FamilySearch CEO, Steve Rockwood opened the conference by explaining his thoughts on the theme.
“Isn’t that what we all want? To belong to something bigger than ourselves?” he asked. Truer words were never spoken as about 1 million people registered for RootsTech to watch the conference or to participate in the popular “Relatives at Rootstech.” People truly were a part of something bigger than themselves. The popular “Relatives at Rootstech” function grew this year so people could find how closely they were related to figures throughout history like George Washington or Rosa Parks. Connections could also be made to neighbors or people with their same last name.
Hungry for Connection
That hunger for connection continued to manifest itself after Rockwood’s remarks. Thousands clamored to get into live and interactive sessions peppered throughout the three days of the conference. While live classes filled to capacity, others hoped to watch via Facebook or YouTube Live. The response to the live classes was bigger than expected, and the RootsTech team tried to accommodate eager viewers.
There were over 1,000 pre-recorded classes on every family history topic with open chat rooms for conversations with the speakers themselves. I am still soaking in my playlist of classes. It’s thrilling to know I have all the time I need to do so. As usual, the RootsTech team listened to viewers from last year. They enhanced the search and chat features so we could tune in and connect with other conference attendees easier and more quickly.
“In 2021, our first all-virtual event, we learned a lot about how people consume online content. They want shorter, more engaging content,” said Wing. Adding the live classes was a huge boon to the success of this year’s conference. There were a few bumps to work out, but in the end, the live classes helped people connect in a way that had been missing from last year’s RootsTech.
New Advancements from Family History Companies
One of the exciting sides of RootsTech is that most of the big Family History companies announce major advancements or additions around the time of RootsTech each year. This year I loved Ancestry’s “Add Story” icon on their app. Now, whenever you open the app, you can simply hit the green plus sign and add a new story to your page. Genius! And easy!
My Heritage also left our mouths gaping over their live stories. With this advancement, all it takes is a photo upload and a story to get our pictures talking, literally. Many have loved this cool technology, some are mystified and some aren’t so sure.
My Heritage also introduced a new timeline tool filled with ideas and methods on combining ancestor and world events. The colors and layout is something we will be using in our work for sure.
FamilySearch also added its “get involved” initiative where with just a click on your phone you can spend only five minutes to index or approve family history records.
Reminders to Take Action
Another new feature of RootsTech 2022 were reminder prompts on social media on how to really connect with others. For example, posts on social media with simple thoughts or steps on how to make my RootsTech experience and my family history journey something manageable. Here’s a prompt I especially liked: 3 ways to record your personal history (Keep a journal, Go digital and Capture memories) with simple tips on how to complete the task. The prompts were to the point and they encouraged me to take action.
The other motivating thought that came with these simple prompts was the idea that just connecting with others is vitally important – sharing a smile with a stranger, complimenting someone at the grocery store or reaching out to a friend to say hello can be simple connections that go a long way. In our past two years of pandemic life, these are reminders we all need to get back to normal life. Make simple connections and then the big connections will follow.
Food, Glorious Food!
There was a lot of talk about food and the connections it brings. This is something I have known with family history work for quite sometime and has been a theme of RootsTech before. But there is so much truth to it, it cannot be ignored!
Two of our keynote speakers focused remarks around food the connections it brought to them and the link it gave to their ancestors. In the opening keynote, we were able to see the joy food can bring and how we can understand other cultures through food. This is true for ancestors and living family members alike. “Going back to my roots, that was the first thing I did,” said Molly Yeh, keynote speaker, cooking television host and cookbook author. I know from personal experience, cooking with your ancestors’ recipes is one of the best ways to know who they are, where you came from and where you are going.
Connection felt great!
Both Rhonda and I loved connecting at our live classes and pre-recorded classes and all from the comfort of our own homes. While we personally miss the in-person connections at RootsTech, this year felt like the best of both worlds. There was more time to personally connect with class members virtually as questions streamed in before, during and after our classes. We are also making daily connections with people who are still watching our classes now. In fact, if you would like to see our RootsTech 2022 offering, we invite you to visit our RootsTech pages: https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/speakers/rhonda-gaye-lauritzen/en
Rachel J. Trotter is a senior writer/editor at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. She tells people’s stories, shares hers to encourage others and especially loves family storytelling. A graduate of Weber State University, Rachel has had articles featured on LDSLiving.com and Mormon.org. She and her husband, Mat, have six children and live on the East Bench in Ogden, Utah.Share74TweetPin2