If you're looking for me at the vast RootsTech conference, chances are you can find me in the Demo Theater. This is the second year RootsTech has featured the Demo Theater. I like to call it "the best seat in the RootsTech house." Here's why:
The Demo Theater features rows of big couches and chairs arranged in a semi circle around a small stage with a podium and a screen. There are some overflow tables in the back. Those white boxes on the tables are chargers for your electronics. Nice.
Demo Theater sessions last 15 minutes long and feature vendors from the exhibit hall. The presentations run about 10-12 minutes with a few minutes for questions. Each session usually has a live demo of the product or at least a planned sales pitch.
Here is one about search techniques at FamilySearch.org:
Presentations run back to back, so there are no gaps. There is an emcee to keep the conversation going as the vendors switch out. At the beginning of each session, a person comes around with a raffle ticket and a basket of chocolate. Please understand what I just said: someone brings you raffle tickets and chocolate every 15 minutes while you sit in a big comfy chair. And...the vendors come to you.
Now do you see why the Demo Theater is the best seat in the RootsTech house?
I will confess I've spent a great deal of time here during RootsTech. Here are some of the presentations I've seen:
Billion Graves: Billion Graves Basics
Pictureline: How to Digitize Your Photos
MyHeritage: Finding our Ancestors Among Billions of Names...
Treelines: Family Tree Management on Treelines.com
RootsPoint: Connecting Lives
FamilySearch: Effective Search Techniques on FamilySearch.org
findmypast: Discover Your Irish Roots with findmypast
So let me repeat this again: vendors come to you and show you how to use their products while a lady hands out raffle tickets and chocolate. This happens every 15 minutes while you sit in a big comfy chair.
I can't got any further without thanking Backblaze for sponsoring the Demo Theater. Not only did they sponsor it, but they were very active in running the show, answering questions and filling the gaps with conversation when the vendors switched out.
I'd really like to see something like the Demo Theater at more traditional genealogy conferences, but I'm doubtful that would happen as there aren't many big money sponsors and it's something new and different in a field that's slow to change.
For now, I'll continue to enjoy the features and knowledge that come out of Demo Theater. I learned a lot in that area at this conference and hope to do so again at RootsTech 2015.