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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Palace Convention Center filled with thousands of guests Thursday morning for the opening general session of RootsTech, the largest family history technology conference in the world.
Mike Mallin, chief product officer for MyHeritage, said during his keynote address that the way people experience and research family history is like magic.
"Great products and technology are sophisticated, often developed over the course of several years, yet they hide their complexity in their engines to such an extent that we experience them as magic," Mallin said.
MyHeritage allows users to connect with people around the world to find their ancestors. Its large database also allows users to share stories and post pictures of their relatives to enliven connections with family members.
"We are focusing on key themes such as discovery, instant gratification and mobile devices," Mallin said. "We are after everyone, tens of millions of families across the globe."
Mallin emphasized the need for people to join in family history research for the benefit of themselves and other genealogists, but acknowledged that people who are just beginning family history need some instant gratification to keep going.
He offered the story of a woman named Rachel, who began doing family history while taking the train to work. In minutes, Rachel went from searching "family tree" on her phone to entering basic information about her grandparents on MyHeritage to receiving a notification that she had been connected to 34 other family members.
Those people came to Rachel as a result of a match with a man named David, whom Rachel has never met, and who has amassed a family tree of over 6,000 people.
"We need to realize that people, particularly nongenealogists, need help, and they need it right away," Mallin said.
The RootsTech conference is taking place this week at the Salt Palace Convention Center and is expected to draw more than 20,000 guests.
Taylor Hintz is a Deseret News features reporter and currently a journalism student at Brigham Young University in Provo.