There are many good reasons for the large attendance. First of all, it is in Salt Lake City, sometimes referred to as “genealogy Mecca.” Second, there are lots of presentations. Third, the exhibit hall is the largest I have ever seen at a genealogy conference in North America. I'll write more about that in a moment.
Finally, the most obvious difference has been an excellent “behind the scenes” organizational effort by the National Genealogical Society and also by FamilySearch, the local hosts. First, the selection of the Salt Palace is an excellent choice. This modern convention center is capable of handling multiple conferences at once, and I believe it often does just that. Next, everything I saw seemed to “just click.” I am sure there must have been some rough spots someplace, but I didn't see any today and didn't hear of any. These organizers “had their act together.”
The conference kicked off at 8 AM with numerous opening remarks, followed by Jay Verkler, President and CEO of FamilySearch, speaking on “From the Granite Mountain to the Ends of the World.” He gave a video tour of the fabled Granite Mountain Records Vault, which has not been seen by many outsiders. The vault protects billions of records gathered from governments, churches, and other archives around the world. When the Opening Session ended, the doors to the exhibit hall opened, and then I got busy. I didn't take many notes.
I spent most of the day in the exhibit hall, talking with present newsletter readers and also demonstrating the web site to potential future newsletter readers. I hope to get out and circulate a bit more tomorrow.
I did notice the local Channel 2 news department had a video crew in the exhibits hall and were interviewing a number of people. The result was broadcast on the evening news in Salt Lake City. It's great to see this kind of publicity for a genealogy conference.
The hot topic of this conference is all the new product announcements being made left and right. I don't think I have yet heard all of them, but I did catch some of them and will write about some in separate articles to follow.
After past conferences, I have sometimes written, “It was a nice conference, but there weren't many new products or services announced.” All I can say is that nobody will write that about this year's NGS conference!
The primary exhibit hall was filled with genealogy vendors, and then a second hall, called the GenTech Hall, also was filled. The GenTech Hall was devoted to technology products and services. Many of the exhibitors in the GenTech Hall were companies I had never seen at a genealogy conference before, many of them exhibiting brand-new products and services. I must say that the GenTech Hall was an excellent idea and one that has already proven to be beneficial. I hope to write more about the vendors in the GenTech Hall in the next day or two.
See my separate articles below for news about several new products introduced today.
I'll be back in the Salt Palace tomorrow, looking for more news and attending a few presentations. I'll also be making a presentation entitled, “Oh My Goodness – Where's My Data? Data Backup, Storage, and Preservation.”