What will the Keynotes Say? #RootsTech 2019

By Caleb Lee

RootsTech 2019 is a short time away and it will be packed with classes for those at home and in Salt Lake City. Let’s have a little fun and try to predict what the keynote speakers will talk about.

Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, will keynote Rootstech on Wednesday

What will Steve Rockwood say?

Steve Rockwood is the CEO of FamilySearch and has been since 2015. Since 2016, he’s been the Wednesday Keynote at RootsTech. Because we have all of his keynotes available on the internet, whether at rootstech.org or on YouTube, he’s the easiest 2019 keynote to analyze.

RootsTech Updates

He’ll most likely comment on how RootsTech is growing and reaching new audiences, such as those in London. He might give us a new nickname, like he called us ‘heart specialists’ in 2016 and 2017.

FamilySearch Partnerships

Another common theme throughout Mr. Rockwood’s keynotes is that FamilySearch does not compete with other family history companies. Rather, it collaborates and partners with them to bring records and memories to as many family historians as possible. I’m sure he’ll reiterate this point, along with recent successes in preserving and sharing records.

Connections Between Generations

If you go back and watch his keynote sessions, there are a few common themes. The first is the connection between our ancestors and us.

In 2017, he talked about how we connect with our ancestors through family recipes. In 2018, where the theme was “Connect. Belong,” he talked about how we treat people differently when we realize we are connected to them. He also encouraged attendees to find their relatives with the “Relatives at RootsTech” feature of the FamilySearch app.

With this year being “Connect. Belong,” part 2, we should once again hear a lot about connections.

Connections in the Home

He will likely talk about connecting specifically in the home. As I’ve watched his past talks, I’ve noticed a peculiar similarity with Rockwood’s rhetoric and that of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

For instance, in 2018, he talked about how family history is very personal. One of the phrases he used was ‘one by one.’ This phrase is often used by leaders in the Church, referring to missionary work as well as ministering to individual members. And the Church recently has developed a family-centered program of study. It is likely that Rockwood will touch on family history in the home.

Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Patricia Heaton will keynote Rootstech on Thursday

What will Patricia Heaton say?

Next up, the Thursday keynote speaker is Patricia Heaton. She’s an actor who’s had a varied career, but is most known for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond. In addition to acting as a mother on screen, she is a mother herself. Since she is an actor, I decided to watch another actor’s keynote from previous RootsTech videos.

LeVar Burton talked about how his mother was an amazing woman, and how she wanted him to get an education. He talked about how black people were a rarity on television, how the technology from Star Trek is being replicated today, and how Roots changed America.

All that aside, the main theme of his keynote was storytelling. He gave great insight into what made humans special: we have the ability to imagine. LeVar discussed how seeing people like him on television inspired him.

Patricia will probably talk about her childhood and her life as a mother. She might talk about how being a mother helped her act as one on television. She will likely have a theme of storytelling, like fellow actor LeVar Burton. Whatever the case, it’s bound to be enjoyable.

Saroo Brierley will keynote Rootstech on Friday

What will Saroo Brierly say?

On Thursday, we will hear from Saroo Brierly, an Indian man who lost his family at age 5. He found his family in 2012 and published a memoir called A Long Way Home. His story captured the attention of the media and was later turned into an Oscar nominated movie.

Of all the previous RootsTech keynotes, Scott Hamilton’s story seems to have the most similarities with Saroo. Scott was also an adoptee who found family in the people around him. His identity came from his life experiences, rather than his past.

Saroo’s story involves loving his adopted family but also yearning for his biological one. His identity seems complicated and will likely be discussed in his keynote.

I predict he won’t discuss is his search for his family. He’ll probably give a brief overview of it, but he’s already shared that part of his story in his book and in a move. Instead, he might focus on how connecting to his biological family has changed him.

Perhaps he’ll focus on connecting other adoptees to their families. Perhaps he’ll discuss how finding his living family has unlocked a desire to connect with his deceased ancestors.

Jake Shimabukuro will keynote Rootstech on Saturday

What will Jake Shimabukuro say?

On Saturday, Jake Shimabukuro, a Hawaiian ukulele player, will be the keynote.

Last year, Natalia Lafourcade, a singer from Mexico, presented a musical keynote. We can assume Jake’s performance will be very similar. While he won’t make music the entire time, a good portion of the session will be him playing his ukulele.

He might talk about his family tradition of music, as well as how he became a musician. And of course, I predict he’ll also receive research that the RootsTech team has done in his family.

It’s your turn to play predict the keynote topics

These are my predictions for the keynote addresses. I’ll be #NotAtRootsTech as I watch the conference between college classes (English, Government, Economics, and Calculus II). What do you think the keynotes will be discussing? Which ones are you most excited about?

Join me on Twitter with the #NotAtRootsTech hashtag during the livestreams as we have fun from our couches, which might or might not involve pajamas and cheese (I would say popcorn but I can’t have that with my braces).

To see the live stream schedule, visit this website: rootstech.org/salt-lake/live-stream-schedule


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