Geni.com maps the family trees of the world

What’s the most core social network we could map? Our family!

I’m a big proponent of organizing your family online. In fact I created a family site for my kin way back during the first boom. I’ve also created and moderate Yahoo groups around my family name, and organized a trip back to my roots for those that had found us.

I shared my family lineage and story on July 4th, and several people told me to try Geni.com, I did.

I’m excited about Geni.com, it’s a family tree mapping software with a very slick user interface, even my older Aunts were able to figure it out. There’s always been download versions such as Broderbund’s Family Tree Maker. The limitations with that is one person is stuck doing all the work, and it could be a legacy data source that becomes irrelevant if no one tends to it. You’re probably also familiar with ancestry.com, they’ve deployed a very heavy online advertising campaign.

The beauty of Geni.com is if it’s a successful company, (keep up to date with their blog) than our ancestral information (and ours) will be stored online for a long time, to me the internet is one way for us to stay immortal, our stories are told. Secondly, the work is distributed to the parties that want to add information (there’s always a small group of folks or individual in a family that wants to lead an organization or historical effort) and this makes the updating process in real time. Lastly, the most beautiful thing about this is finding out how everyone is related. As their tag line states, the whole world is related, now let’s find out.

The killer thing about Geni that sets it apart from other sites? The gorgeous flash interface, it’s truly easy to use, smooth and fluid, play with the map mover, slider, and zoomer.

Recommendations: I encourage you to try this out and add some of your family data, but be considerate about putting a lot of detailed information about your family. I think name and relationship is probably sufficient. Although futile, I’m always hesitant about putting personal information online.

Some of my family had some concerns about privacy and data, it would be interesting to hear from the company about how they will handle the data.

You can see a few folks have already uploaded screenshots of their family tree on flickr.

Leave a comment

1 Have you used Geni.com or other similiar software?
2 How many family members do you have mapped out? (I’m at 60ish)
3 Did one or two people do most of the work or was it collaborative?


geni1
Above: login screen shows what the most basic tree starts off with, your mother and father

geni2
Above: There’s some interesting features, like a discussion forum, index and list, and this google map mashup


Above Video: Robert Scoble left a comment, he did an interview with the folks

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    I have a couple of videos of David Sacks showing/talking about Geni: http://scobleizer.com/2007/05/30/looking-at-geni-new-kind-of-family-tree-software/

  • http://livz.org Steven Livingstone

    Hi Jeremiah -

    1 Have you used Geni.com or other similiar software?
    I’ve used some in the past. Used some family tree Xml structre in a past project. Was always hard to manage more than a dozen family members. This is where Geni wins big.

    2 How many family members do you have mapped out?

    621. Amazingly only 85 are blood relatives because…

    3 Did one or two people do most of the work or was it collaborative?
    Collaborative. In fact, as Gladwell discusses, a set of Mavens have done most of the work! I suppose i was a connector and got a few people on board – they in turn convinced some others (acting as “Salesmen”). It really did work like that – was amazing to watch. All in the space of a couple of months.

    We now have people from Scotland, Ireland, Chile, Canada, US, France, Australia, Norway and some places i don’t think i’ve heard of :)

    It still has some issues around non-family aunts (we all have that “aunt” or “gran” who isn’t really your aunt, but you’ve called her that since you were a kid).

    I’d also like to see how they may connect trees – so that you can maintain some level of privacy, but still relate to family members or close friends.

    We’re now looking at adding historical photo’s, stories and so on – we have had a ton of discussions offline and i’ve found out a lot abuot the history of my family. Geni should collaborate/buy Dandelife – could be huge !

    It is certainly very, very cool stuff!!

  • http://recruitersdumpingground.blogspot.com Dennis Smith

    Very cool stuff! Thanks Jeremiah. Saw your Twitter post and had to check it out.

    I’m sitting on 56 so far, but it only took about 10 min’s to get that many.

    This will be a collaborative effort – so much of the info is still in people’s heads!

    Thanks again!

    Dennis

  • http://dbillian.typepad.com Damon Billian

    I sent David Sacks a quick message on Facebook & he was glad you enjoyed Geni.com. I haven’t spent a lot of time on it because I am trying to avoid most of my family;-)

  • Geni Commenter

    Jeremiah & All those who think this site is cool. BEFORE you go posting all the personal information, take a look at the forums. There are hundreds of users who are screaming about the privacy violations that Geni has done. They have ignored their privacy policy more than once, exposing thousands of names to the public. Think about this the next time you are asked a security question of “What’s your mother’s maiden name” or “what high school did you attend”. They are completely ignoring these issues and the blogosphere is appropriately slamming them very hard because of it. I highly recommend users NOT use their service.

  • Tacotoes

    David Sacks is an idiot for guiding his company like this.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Tacotoes, why is David an idiot?

    If you’re going to call someone an idiot, at least back it up.

    Geni Commenter, I hear you. I’ve warned my family to always be cautious with online data

  • geniuser

    Can Geni deliver on promise?

    This issue has been ongoing since January and Geni fails miserably to adjust it’s unethical business practice

    Geni privacy statement says “We will not spam you or your relatives. Detailed account settings allow you to control which emails you receive from us.”

    When you add a relative in Geni, you can edit anything on that profile except the notification and privacy settings.

    Geni will by default spam your relatives until they validate their email accounts and sign up to Geni in order to unsubscribe to the “notifications”. That’s how they got 5 million “accounts” in 5 month! People were forced to sign up to make the spam stop.

    A consequence of this forced membership is that a resentful member can easily create havoc in the tree. Geni hasn’t developed any protection against malicious editing/postings in form of a basic change log

    Geni are so shooting themselves in the foot with this highly unethical business practice and creates quite a stir in their own forum.

  • http://dmdomgywgl.com dmdomgywgl

    Hello! Good Site! Thanks you! pkgyocenky

  • http://www.geni.com The Geni Team

    Thank you for the write up on our site in July–since then we’ve added quite a few features that our users have asked for (birthday reminders, customizable privacy settings, messaging, photo uploading and more). We’ve also got some pretty cool features scheduled for release soon so stay tuned.

  • Pingback: Family is Social Network #1.

  • http://recruitersdumpingground.blogspot.com/ Dennis Smith

    Very cool stuff! Thanks Jeremiah. Saw your Twitter post and had to check it out.

    I'm sitting on 56 so far, but it only took about 10 min's to get that many.

    This will be a collaborative effort – so much of the info is still in people's heads!

    Thanks again!

    Dennis