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Geni in a Bottle

Two weeks ago, my good friend Patrick (pach00ey) told me about a new genealogy site called Geni. I was intrigued.

A few years ago, I installed phpmyfamily on my own server and did a mass email to family members hoping they'd enter in information. I used a shared account since I didn't want to make everyone register new accounts. phpmyfamily is fast, but it's has many limitations. The biggest being that it wasn't very user friendly.

Geni to the rescue. Geni approaches genealogy from a new angle -- social networking. With Geni, you are a node on your family tree. You can add nodes of other people and you can invite those people to own those nodes. Of course, like any social networking site, you have messaging and photos and profiles. But Geni is not a web publishing site. Your tree is private to you and your family.

They chose to do the actual tree part in flash. You can zoom in, zoom out, and pan around the tree. It's definitely much more slick than anything I've seen. I was going to include a screen shot, but I realized that I couldn't without violating other people's privacy, so ya'll will just have to check it out yourselves.

What I like about Geni:

1) Price. Can't beat free.

2) Interface. It's better than anything else I've seen out there.

3) Collaboration. Honestly, this is really the only way to gather as much information as possible on your family. By using the social networking, each person creates nodes for the relatives they know about. No one person knows everyone in their family, but we each know our immediate family and uncles and aunts and first cousins.

What is missing from Geni:

1) GEDCOM import. I think you can export but not import. Feature coming soon. But at least with the export you can keep offline versions of the data in case the site does not survive.

2) Merging trees. This one is big. If we keep inviting people to our tree, it grows and grows. But what if I come across a family member who already has a Geni tree? Well, then I'm stuck. There is currently no way to merge the trees. Their reasoning for this is that they haven't figured out how to handle conflict management. But they are aware that it's a highly requested feature and they are looking for a solution.

Finally I leave you with this:

Wow. And it's only been two weeks!



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