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June 02, 2007

Looking for an online social family network

Geni - Everyone's Related

My online family tree has now more than 18,000 members in it. I'm also part of the Roglo database, soon approaching the with over 2m members. It's getting very difficult for me to keep track of all my family contacts (I use the NOTE field in every person's file, but it's not easily searchable and manageable), send them updates about the tree (I use the sepulveda.org blog), or enabling them to subscribe to a ping for an update on any particular branch of the family tree.

The Geneweb software I'm using is not allowing it, nor is the service hosting the tree for me.
I'm really in the need for a social family network hosted service.

Hence I looked again at Geni today.

Its interface is very slick and seems to have a lot of the bells & whistles I'm looking for : but after playing with it for a few minutes, there's no appeal. It's not for me. I'm a pro-am genealogist, with many thousand people in my database, meaning I need to manage many different communities (by ancestor mainly), that can interact or not between themselves.

I understand the simplicity of Geni for adding new family members (good for rookie genealogists), but in my case, there's no way I'm going to start retyping everything, and although I might look into importing my GEDCOM file to Geni (THIS FEATURE IS NOT AVAILABLE? crazy), I will always maintain it inside geneweb. Hence I need social features added on top on my existing tool.

I also need a way to easily manage pictures for a community (I currently use Flickr Albums for this), so that everyone interested in this community can browse through them. Pictures in my case include at least:
. pictures taken of original documents (such as birth, marriage, death certificates)
. pictures taken at cemeteries, places: documenting the life of the person
. pictures of individuals at family reunions.
Of course, my guess is that we should start to use video soon as well.

Additional uses are comments, events organization (family reunions, weddings, baptisms, etc.), bulletin board, etc. And not to be forgotten, heavy use of maps such as Google Earth for :
. different places where a person has lived
. where they are now
. where they are born, buried, etc.

Finally, the one feature I like about LinkedIn is the updated profile features that tells me what my friends are up to. I'd love the same thing on what my family members are up to.

There must be a way to create a mashup of all of this.

There's an interesting discussion about Geni and all its competitors on Techcrunch (mainly based on the valuation, which I don't care much for).

Geni’s family tree builder is really nice but MyFamily.com was the first to realize the market, Amigila.com was the first to build a Flash-based family tree tool. Famiva went limited beta with the viral family tree concept before Geni.

Famiva’s Java-applet based animated family network visualizer is also cool, plus it has many features designed to keep families stay current and keep coming back. MyHeritage and KinKafe are also worth a look. And then there’s the flashy Famundo. Geni is not alone in the Family 2.0 space.

I haven't tested all the services mentionned above yet (anyone that might help ?), but I was thinking more about maybe mixing NING or PeopleAggregator with Geneanet. Has anyone done it yet ?

If I were to start a new company today, this would probably be in the top of the list:

. something I care for

. something that can (OR NOT) be very scalable: at least for me, I see a heavy need, and I would be very much willing to pay for, in the hundreds of euros / year.

June 2, 2007 at 01:21 PM in _Software | Permalink

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