I was notified this week that my proposal to present at the 2015 RootsTech genealogy technology conference was accepted, and I am quite excited about this opportunity!
RootsTech is one of the funnest, biggest, most educational conferences I have attended. The 2014 conference earlier this year marked my first time attending, but I have wanted to go for years, since the first one in 2011. Whether you’re a genealogist, a web developer, or a librarian, RootsTech is packed with great learning and networking opportunities. For someone like me who wears all three of these hats, I was like a kid in a candy store the entire four days of the conference. And the API sessions and workshops were my favorite part. It is rare that I get to hang with people who can geek-speak both genealogy and web services.
About My Presentation
We are expected to firm up our presentation titles and descriptions by August 15th, but these are the working versions from my proposal.
APIs 101: What Are They, And What Do They Have To Do With Genealogy?
Abstract: APIs are all the rage at RootsTech, and have opened up a whole new world of data sharing in genealogy. In this introductory session, you will learn the basic concepts behind APIs, web services, and mashups, and also gain an understanding of how these can be used in genealogy.
Long Description: Have you attended previous RootsTech sessions on APIs, or looked at the current course offerings on APIs, and felt lost? Wondering what all the fuss is over APIs? Are you curious about what APIs have to do with genealogy? This class is for you — the regular family historian or genealogy librarian, no programming experience required! We will showcase different examples of genealogy APIs and do some live sandbox demos using Google Code Playground and Yahoo Pipes. Walk away with resources for learning more about working with APIs to prepare you for some of the API sessions at next year’s RootsTech, or to integrate APIs and mashups into your personal family history website or blog. If you want to get your hands a little dirty playing along on the sandbox sites, bring your laptop with Google Chrome installed.
Inspiration for My Presentation
At RootsTech 2014, I attended all of the API sessions at the pre-conference Innovator’s Summit and the regular three-day conference. I saw these sessions crowded with people who were curious and eager to learn – but who grew frustrated and walked out early because the sessions were too advanced and required a foundation in web development. In defense of RootsTech, sessions labeled “Innovator Summit” do require a higher level of technical expertise, however those course descriptions did not clearly outline what technical prerequisites were necessary for these API sessions. And in my years as an educator who regularly teaches technology, most people overestimate their technical knowledge and expertise anyways, often ignoring any stated prerequisites.
This course is designed to fill that void, and help non-coders gain a basic understanding of APIs so that they can more confidently attend future API sessions at future RootsTech conferences, and continue exploring ways to integrate APIs and mashups into their personal family history websites.
If you are attending RootsTech next year, I encourage you to join my session. I promise to go easy on the PowerPoint slides and provide some fun hands-on learning components for those who bring your own laptops and want to get your hands a little dirty. If you are on the fence about attending RootsTech, hop on over…it’s worth your time and money!