Monday, July 29, 2013

Answers Coming at the BYU Genealogy Conference?

The BYU 2013 Conference on Family History and GenealogyI hadn’t planned on attending the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference this year. Almost at the last moment I noticed who the keynote speakers were. Then I was honored to be named an Official Blogger.

On Tuesday, 30 July 2013, the keynote presenter will be Elder Allan F. Packer, executive director of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In that capacity he fills the role of chairman of the board of FamilySearch, International. On Wednesday, 31 July 2013, the keynote will be delivered by Dennis C. Brimhall, managing director of the Family History Department and Chief Executive Officer of FamilySearch.

The third keynote this year is J. Mark Lowe, a genealogist and educator of national renown. He has a particular reputation for excellence in southern research. I myself chose my ancestors carefully so they were all from New England. But if you were less (or more, depending on your point of view) lucky than me, Lowe’s expertise may be just what you need.

Last April FamilySearch released a new website design that some felt deemphasized serious genealogy. That prompted me to write “The Chasm” and “Either Really, Really Good or Really, Really Bad.” In the former I pointed out that pre-Chasm genealogy and post-Chasm genealogy are very different. In the latter I pointed out that some organizations provide a one-size-fits-all type of experience because they are oblivious to the existence of the chasm. They err too much to one side or the other rather than competently addressing both.

I withheld judgment about the new FamilySearch website at that time, waiting for some signal from FamilySearch as to their direction. I am using these first two keynotes, coming from the top and directed to a post-chasm audience, as a litmus test. Does FamilySearch understand the differing customer requirements pre- and post-chasm? Or are they merely swinging (again) a single pendulum from one side of the chasm to the other?

If you aren’t signed up for the conference already, you might be out of luck. I was told Thursday that the conference was pretty-much, sold out. (Attendance at this popular conference is limited, which is one reason the RootsTech conference was born.) To check for last minute availability, see registration options on

Stay tuned to the Ancestry Insider for coverage of this strategic conference…

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that you keep talking about the chasm. To me, the essence of genealogy is finding and arranging source documentation to support the information about family members. A number of suggestions have been made to FamilySearch to help improve and strengthen this aspect of Tree; but little or nothing seems to be happening. Everything seems to be going into adding photos and that seems to change on almost a daily basis. It also seems like tohose who are adding sources don't understand what seems to have been intended.
    I think that FamilySearch needs to be strengthened in three areas:
    1) Communicating what they hope users will do. For example, there is a feature to add sources to the child/parent relationship. When I ask people what they are doing with this, mostly, I get a response that they are not doing anything with it. I have several sources added that refer to a marriage, death, etc. index but the person adding the source did not provide a URL or anything else so others could view it.
    2) Provide some visibility, with detail, as to where they are going and what they plan to do in the future. For example, are they going to provide the ability to upload documents. I have seen a number of incidents where people have uploaded documents as photos. Is this what is intended/planned?
    3) Provide some visibility as to how the designers of the tool envisioned various features to be used. It seems like if there is no direction and people just throw whatever into the Tree that it will become filled with useless information and people, especially serious genealogists, will ignore it as not worth their time.


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