Again this year Brigham Young University (BYU) is poised to deliver a triple-header in genealogy conferencing in mid-March at the BYU Conference Center in Provo, Utah. The three are scheduled together since presenters, vendors and BYU computer science students often attend more than one of the conferences.
First up on Wednesday, 11 March 2009, is the FamilySearch Developers Conference, "The Catalyst for Interconnectivity." Don't even think about attending this one unless you are a major league Web Services player or if your APIs hit last year were close to 1.0 and you've played for one of these farm clubs: Flex, PHP, Java, Dot-Net, Cocoa, Ruby, Obj.-C or equivalent. If you speak Nerd, have an idea, have the time and the inclination to code a great add-on product to New FamilySearch's Family Tree or Record Search, this is the conference for you!
Fans will not be allowed into the stadium. If you don't play ball, don't come thinking you'll glean some news about the future of the industry. Believe me, you don't want to find yourself staring across the plate at Jimmy "the framework" Zimmerman when a 95 mph presentation comes zinging your direction! Not to worry, though. I will be inside the booth covering this match-up for you.
The cost is $60 until 27 February 2009 and $80 afterwards. Students are $30.
Next in the lineup is the Family History and Technology Workshop, which is slated for the following day (Thursday, 12 March 2009). This conference is a forum to discuss and present the latest academic research, inventions and emerging technology relevant to genealogy. Far from just a contact hitter, this conference has some real power, following the format of an academia symposia. Awards are presented for the top student research papers. Past titles include topics generally interesting to the non-academic (such as "Progress with Searchable Indexes for Handwritten Documents") to esoterica with titles like "A Cross Cultural Comparison of Four Generations of American, Brazilian, French, and German Male and Female First Names Categorized According to Gender, Decade of Birth and Geo-Location of Birth." No doubt that was the award winning title that year... assuming they give an award for the best title... of a paper.
This conference costs $75 for advance registration, $35 for students. More information can be found at http://fht.byu.edu/, including slides, papers and recordings of some past presentations.
"Building a Lasting Legacy," the Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy, is the cleanup hitter, the main event, the big time. This is the one you want to attend. It finishes out the week, spanning both Friday and Saturday, 13-14 March 2009. Everyone may be invited, but the stadium only seats about 600, and it sells out every year.
The conference is sponsored by FamilySearch International, the BYU History Department, the BYU Center for Family History and the BYU Center for Continuing Education. More than 50 classes hit topics for rookies to seasoned veterans, explaining the application of computers, programs, Internet and digital devices to genealogical research.
The pricing is not clear for the conference, but as I write this about 200 people have already paid it. Evening classes are $20. Last year that price was per evening; I wonder if it is the same this year? Students are $25. For more information or to register, visit http://familyhistoryconferences.byu.edu , e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-801-422-4853.
Come if you can. But don't sweat it if you can't. I'll have all the news, as usual, afterwards.