As much as we look back through genealogy, the 2012 RootsTech conference with live streaming and plenty of twitterers is a very positive look at the possible future of technology and genealogy.
The Keynote speech by Jay Verkler on “Inventing the Future, As a Community” has really spent quite a bit of time talking about what we’d all like to see: permanent records, better searches, collaborative searching, and – hopefully – open source standards for it all.
One of the really exciting things is the use of the GEDCOM standard not only as a way to exchange data between users, but also between software, and as a storage medium. Imagine your GEDCOM storing links to your photos as well as a copy of the photos!
Another really exciting announcement is the use of the schemas standard to create one for genealogy type sites. That schema is in use on geni.com, familysearch.com already – the schema itself is online at historical-data.org if you’d like to browse through it. Basically, it uses HTML5 to tag microdata on web sites, which will enable machine-readable data on the pages, so a Google search not only will know the date is on your page, but also that it is the birthdate of a specific person. There is an new extension for the Chrome browser which utilizes this schema immediately. It’s called the Ancestry Family Search Extension. The demostration at RootsTech was eye opening!
There was more, certainly. Discussion of the future, a lot of humor regarding international cooperation, more technology as we’d like to see it. This was certainly a great start to what looks to be a wonderful conference. Feel free to watch the live stream at the RootsTech home page. It’s a great time to be a genealogy geek!