Monday, June 04, 2007

Family Networks

Even if Friendster is no longer popular, social networks are still a big deal on the web. If you pay attention to "technology news" you have probably heard of MySpace and FaceBook; both are very popular and strive for a slightly different audience. LinkedIn is the biggest business social network; I have a page there and it is typically up-to-date.

But today I want to talk about a new online networking tool built around families, Geni. This is a new site and has lots of slick features designed to make the site quick, responsive, and easy to use.

What you really need to know is is an easy way to communicate with and keep track of your extended family. It allows multiple people to add and update information in the same tree. For example, Kristi (wife) imported a picture of her parents and my brother, Jill (sister) added some information about an uncle and pictures about her in-laws, while Tracy (cousin) added the name of a new niece and my aunt's former husband. The site is real-time and you can get notices on updates daily, weekly, or never. The ability to add, associate, and label people in pictures works pretty well too.

Caveat: If you are a genealogist and really into maintaining good records about your family, you might not want to make this your primary source. While you can export records in GEDCOM format, you cannot import them. I would like a few more fields for maintaining data. I have yet to see a way to print customized reports or change the default view on my personal tree. If you are new to genealogy and looking for a good resource, I recommend Personal Ancestral File (PAF 5.0). You can download it here for free, and get a pretty good report generator as an add-on for less than $10.