Tuesday, November 20, 2018

6 Myopic Genealogists at #RootsTech

In just a few years #RootsTech has quickly grown to be the “beast” of genealogy conferences serving clientele around the world both live in Salt Lake City and through streaming to the remote corners of the earth. With its mix of genealogy and technology, it was only a matter of time before it attracted the attention of the 6 visually challenged genealogists from mythical Indostan.

Each of them had documented his paternal ancestry back at least to his respective great-grandfather who was a member of the group immortalized by John Godfrey Saxe in his 19th century saga, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” [i]

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he:
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong![ii]

Having inherited their ancestors’ lust for learning as well as poor eye sight, these present day citizens of Indostan decided to make the trek to Salt Lake City to experience #RootsTech first hand. As soon they arrived each began to tweet and blog to their colleagues back in Indostan. Those colleagues began to wonder if the six were reporting from the same event. Although all were reporting back with the label #RootsTech 2019 there seemed to be little commonality in the events that were being reported.

Here are selected summaries from the posts they sent home:

Reported the first, after we arrived in Salt Lake City over the weekend, we all hurried to the Family History Library early Monday morning to consult documents not available to us in Indostan. At midweek I was so engrossed in my findings that I could not tear myself away to go down the street with my colleagues to just talk about genealogy research. I remained in the Library to, “Just do it.”

The second wrote lengthy posts each day about the inspiration he received from the world class keynote celebrity speakers. He also reported on the large events that marked the opening and closing of the conference. He also managed to get into the rehearsal of the world renowned Choir at Temple Square which made him envied by many of his readers back in Indostan.

The third reported on the useful information he was learning in classes and the difficulty of selecting which among the three hundred plus offerings available on a rich smorgasbord of all imaginable genealogical topics would be the most useful for him to learn about to enrich his research and share with those back in Indostan.

The fourth spent the entire week in the Exhibit Hall chatting with several hundred vendors from around the world who offered goods and services to genealogists. He was able to have hands-on opportunities with many of the products. Many of the larger vendors even offered mini-classes in the form of demonstrations on a daily schedule right in their booths. And oh the swag that was being offered to take back home—some just to be picked up and some more valuable that was awarded in periodic drawings.

The fifth had planned ahead so he was able to be able to sign up for coveted seats in the workshops in computer labs where he could practice hands on use of the products and tools that were being described in these sessions.

The sixth was eager to learn everything he could about incorporating DNA into his research so he arranged his schedule in a different way. He attended every class he could squeeze in from the DNA track; visited the booths of all the vendors large and small that offered DNA testing and interpretation and discussed his progress, roadblocks and research goals with their staff. He quizzed them about product enhancements on the horizon.

As the six reassembled at the airport to fly home, a dispute broke out about the true nature of #RootsTech and about whom among them and benefited the most.
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong![iii]

Come to #RootsTech 2019 and write the learning plan that is best for you.

[i] Illustrator unknown, “Blind men and an elephant”, From Charles Maurice Stebbins & Mary H. Coolidge, Golden Treasury Readers: Primer, American Book Co. (New York), p. 89. 1909.
[ii] John Godfrey Saxe, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” http://www.constitution.org/col/blind_men.htm, viewed 1/14/2013.
[iii] Ibid.