Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Were They Thinking? or Were They Thinking at All?

That's the question I've been asking myself since hearing about RootsTech's decision to disallow vendors who don't meet their criteria as technology vendors. I'm more and more convinced that RootsTech is nothing more than a trade show.

I actually considered attending RootsTech this year, but I decided against it because as much as I love the way technological innovations can be of great assistance in one's genealogical projects, I'd much rather attend a conference that presents advanced topics rather than one showing the latest gadgets.

When I go to genealogical conferences, I always look forward to the exhibit hall. I usually have a list of books I plan to purchase at the conference if they are available. I sometimes have software on that list as well. I will sometimes even look for other techie items. However, I do not want to go to an exhibit hall that lacks books. I can spend hours looking at the books. I always come home with more than the ones I had planned to buy. I rarely come home with technology products that were not on my list -- the FlipPal being a notable exception. (I was, however, looking for a portable scanner at the time. I just had expected to purchase it later, and I had a different one on my wish list than the Flip Pal. The rave reviews I was hearing at the conference in the exhibit hall sent me over to their booth to take a look, and I came away convinced it was the one for me.)

The truth is . . . I just can't justify most technology purchases. I can't afford to purchase all of those products. When I make a technology purchase, I have to see a clear need for it and know that I will get my money's worth from the product before it becomes obsolete. There are very few products that actually meet that criteria.

As far as online databases, I'm already subscribing to as many as my current budget will allow. These are the essential ones that I use on a regular basis. Sure, I'd love to have all of them, but the truth is, I probably would not get my money's worth out of most of the other databases. I have to pick and choose wisely. Most of the vendors of these databases display at both the NGS and FGS conferences. I'm able to take a look at them and see what new developments have arisen in the exhibit hall, as I'm browsing the books and visiting with friends.

If I were to go to a conference such as RootsTech that had technology vendors only, I'd be tempted to skip the exhibit hall completely. You can call me a Luddite . . . but I think most of my colleagues at work would disagree with you. I'm one of the techiest people on campus and have taught college-level Computer Information Systems courses. I still love my books. I also love my Kindle, but I still love the ones on paper in soft and hardcover bindings!

By the way, I wonder if RootsTech has considered that most of those books were written and published on computers using software applications of various kinds? I guess not.

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