Search This Blog


Friday, February 5, 2016

DNA Panel at RootsTech Innovator Summit

 For the first time (ok, I have only ever been to RootsTech one other time) I attended the Innovator Summit on Wednesday.  Confession: I did miss the keynote because I was helping set up a booth so I didn’t get to see everything.  What I did see…amazing!

First off, it was wonderful to see so many young genealogists at the event.  Yes, it may be the tech focus of the conference, so many people expected a younger demographic to be there.  However, there was a large presence of young genealogists ranging from late teens to fresh out of college.  To me, it was the proof that the young genie demographic is alive and thriving! YES!

I also was able to attend a panel discussion on DNA.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but heck, it’s DNA.  You know for that one fact that I had to attend right?

The panel was Dr. Scott Woodward, Judy Russell, and Diahan Southard moderated by Scott Fisher host of Extreme Genes: Family History Radio.  There were no questions taken from the audience, but instead it was a preselected set for each panelist.  Even so, the questions asked and the information given was timely and on topic.

Panel for the DNA session
Judy was, of course, asked about ethics and genealogy.  It made me very happy that this issue was brought up.  Ethics is always a sticky topic, one that many genealogists stumble on frequently.  Add in the issues of genetics and the already sticky situation then becomes quick sand.  Judy made several good points, including that any time you deal with family information ethical issues should be looked at.

More importantly, she took the stance that I have since the beginning.  Genetic data belongs to the person who gave the sample, period.  Why this is a question I do not understand.  After many lectures I have people come to me on both sides of this predicament.  Those who feel that they paid for it, so it’s theirs to control.  Then those who want to know the results and are shut out by the person managing the test.

Yes, this is a conversation that obviously needs to be had more and more.

While that might have been the most electric discussion of the panel, there were quite a few other great points brought up.

For instance, I really liked Dihan’s answer when asked what products or spin-offs she thought were out there for the taking.  She hit the nail on the head with the industry needs companies (or people or groups) to create nice ways to share genetic results with people.  We all know that Ancestry allows you to send the ethnicity picture out to people, but it would be great if there were ways we could easily share more types of genetic information with our family.

Why family? For me, they are the ones that we need to get and keep interested.  If we could share information, explanations and our enthusiasm with our relatives I honestly believe that many more would understand the thrill.  It can take most people weeks if not months to fully understand their results.  Why should we expect our family to feel our excitement when we show them a DNA result and they have no idea what it means?  I mean I love my husband, but at times, he shows me a techie thing and my eyes glaze over while I nod my head.  We all do it with our own family and genealogy.

Overall it was a good day, and I am so glad to be back at RootsTech 2016.

No comments:

Post a Comment