Family Search Conference

I am at the FamilySearch conference at BYU today which means that I had to get up at 5:30 this morning which is one my least favorite things in the world. Luckily caffeine is my friend and I managed to stay awake for the drive down. I did discover this morning that my truck's top speed is 75 MPH and that it is scary to drive it that fast.

Here are some highlights from the keynote.

Ransom Love is talking about Social Networking and is showing Geni, FamilyBuilder, WorldVitalRecords - especially their Facebook application 'We're Related'. All of these companies have open and collaborative technology, use social networking and focus on family relations and because of that formula are extremely successful.

Guesses there are 70 billion records in the world and they have 6 billion records and 3 billions images in the 'vault.' Over half of all children have no official record of their existence. What they currently have will require about 24 petabytes of storage. Records in the vault are stored by contract not owned. Therefore they must work with others. They want to collaborate. They want a free flow of data into open repositories and want to work with commercial entities and non-profits to help encourage world wide genealogy.

They are moving away from acquiring information to providing access to information. Moving away from producing products to building a platorm. Moving towards becoming open and sharing information. They are developing APIs and standards to help other organizations succeed.

They have been known as the Genealogy society of Utah but have changed the name to FamilySearch to represent their broader global focus. Also, lets them work with commercial and non profit organizations.

Volunteers currently produce more than 1.7M names a day - that is a total, given that records are entered through a double blind system not that many names go in. Want to get around 300,000 people involved over the next few years.

Their webservices will let you link into richer content to records stored in the family tree. A couple of years ago guys from the Internet Archive came to our conference at Utah State and talked about the massive amount of data they are storing. This included wedding videos and other home videos. Flickr lets you upload photos. Youtube lets you upload videos. It would be interesting if you could build a mashup that let you store digital artifacts in existing systems and link that into family search. The thin layer that makes that possible would be interesting. As a side note BYU's great inappropriate content filter just blocked access to the Internet Archive. Lame.