Monday, June 29, 2015

RootsTech Attendee Demographics

RootsTech 2016 - Celebrating Families across GenerationsRootsTech (hosted by FamilySearch) recently released some interesting demographics about 2015 RootsTech conference and Innovator Summit attendees.

  RootsTech Attendees Innovator Summit Attendees
States 49 39
Countries 39 11
Family history beginner 37% 21%
Family history intermediate 46% 46%
Family history advanced, expert, or professional 17% 33%
Technology beginner 19% 7%
Technology intermediate 59% 28%
Technology advanced, expert, or developer 22% 65%
Female 66% 34%
Male 34% 66%
18-35 10% 23%
36-45 15% 26%
46-55 18% 22%
56-65 28% 21%
Over 65 29% 8%

Some interesting things to notice:

  • Percentages for male and female are completely reversed between RootsTech and Innovator Summit.
  • The average Innovator Summit attendee considered himself to be a better genealogist than what the average RootsTech attendee considered herself. That would be an interesting self appraisal to validate. Most of the technology I see produced for genealogy is designed for pre-chasm research. There’s the possibility that Innovator Summit attendees haven’t done much post-chasm research or aren’t even aware the chasm exists. Or the explanation could be much more obvious and less ominous: RootsTech offers a beginners’ track and the Innovator Summit doesn’t. (For more information about the chasm, see “The Chasm.”)
  • To put the shoe on the other foot, when it came to technology, 22% of RootsTech attendees considered themselves advanced or developer. Since I doubt one in five RootsTech attendees are familiar with C#, Java, JavaScript, JSON, jQuery, XML, and AJAX, “advanced” must mean something different to a RootsTech attendee than it does to an Innovator Summit attendee. I guess some rows in the above table are comparing apples and oranges.
  • Innovator Summit attendee ages were evenly split between the four age groups from 18 to 65. Over half of the RootsTech attendees were over 55.

RootsTech 2016 will be held the 3rd through the 6th of February, 2016. RootsTech is always held in Salt Lake City and will be held again at the Salt Palace Convention Center. I’ve not seen any word on when registration will open, but the class schedule will be announced mid September. The deadline for presentation proposals is tomorrow, 30 June 2015.


  1. Interesting statistics. What do you believe pre-chasm and post-chasm functionality translate to in a genealogical context? I have my own theories but I'd welcome another slant.

    1. Having read the link that describes this "chasm" (, I see that it is not the same as the "chasm" that is normally related to sales and product functionality ( To be fair, genealogy (and any historical research) has never been that easy, and the current perception is largely a result of advertising and the availability of digitised information. If users are crossing a chasm then it's actually a return-trip because genealogists were more rigorous before the advent of this "digital age".

    2. I suspect that the boundaries of the "Genealogical chasm" will move as more of the records which had previously been only accessible to those able to get to the archives are digitized.
      I also think that as genealogists get to talk to each other more about research and how, what and where to find in the records, so may those who are seriously interested find it less of a challenge.
      The ability to use the technology available to assist with the finding, recording and understanding of what is available is already apparent. I doubt that many of the Rootstech attendees from countries other than the US were novices and even within the states you are talking expenditure for this conference.
      It would be interesting to see how many members of local genealogy societies have heard of Rootstech both within and outside the US and then compare this with how they use the technology.
      The demographic for WDYTYA Live would give quite a different picture of the Genealogical community as good UK based research still relys heavily on obtaining records not kept in a digital database online. Finding where the records can be found may be easier but we are still a long way from having anything much more than indexes available digitally online. Time for this hobby is the main reason why it still remains a passion that all but the most dedicated start after retirement, unless you are fortunate enough to make it your occupation.

    3. The point made about more technology attendees considering themselves to be good genealogists than with the RootsTech attendees is the most worrying aspect of this, especially if the associated technology is largely "pre-chasm". It supports some suggestions I made in, but without evidence of these "advanced genealogy" pursuits then the data can't be validated. The cost of travel will certainly filter attendees from around the world, as you pointed out Hilary, but it couldn't account for that disparity between technologists and non-technologists.

  2. Interesting stats.

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!


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