I was reading through Valleywag the other day and saw a brief article on Geni: The family tree meets social networking (yes, Geni owner, you can use that for your slogan, but I want 10%).

The Geni logo

My dad has had a long standing interest in genealogy, and while the interest has always been a passive one of mine, of course the social networking aspect has drawn me in. But now that I’ve started thinking about it, what does value does genealogy really add to social networking? I talk to my immediate family (and either you do too, or you choose not to – social networking won’t change that). The family members that my dad could fill in for me (up the tree) can’t network with me (because they’re not alive), and if I start finding distant relatives… does that mean we should start talking? Admittedly, it’s more common ground than most people who try to add me as a friend on myspace, but I’m not sure it’s enough common ground to really start networking. Am I missing a benefit?

I think there might be a more fundamental issue at work here, however. As you start to build your tree, you enter your email address – which instantly creates your account. Now how do you get back to your family tree? Just enter your email address and your password. Didn’t enter a password? I didn’t either. But you better know it if you want to access all that information you just entered. Enjoy…

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The conversation continues...

  1. On January 20th, 2007 at 1:07 pm, Eric said:

    I came across this a few days ago through digg, and I found it so frustrating that I gave up. Terrible usability problems.
    You can’t delete someone once you’ve entered an email address, and you can’t change someone’s email address once you’ve put one in – you can only “add” email addresses for that person. So, don’t make a mistake! Also, good luck fixing parentage, etc. If you accidentally picked “sister” when you meant to pick “wife” for a new person. Whenever I click on someone to add information, the form brings up the info from the last person I edited not the current one, but if you hit “save” it will save the other person’s info over the current one. It doesn’t work for me with Firefox, so I used it with Safari. Maybe that is the source of my problems, but I don’t think I’m ever going back (even though I finally got the email telling me my password).

    As far as social networking is concerned, I don’t think it will really work in its current state. If you and your cousin happen to be working independently, there is no way to merge your trees, so that sort of discourages teaming up with current members.

What do you think?