Monday, April 28, 2008

About a year ago i was introduced to the user experience at GENI.COM - a free "family tree" building online community. I had heard that the Flash and AJAX UI was impressive, the site was easy, and it was fun. I tried it, agreed in the observations, and went on my way.

Now it's a year later. I've had scraps of paper since i was a kid that held precious family connection information (names, parents, occupations, stuff like that), and for the past month the box of this stuff has been by my desk, begging for closure. I've been trying to get this stuff input somewhere digital so i could toss all these bits of rolled up paper. And then i got a random email from Geni. Not sure what they've been up to over there, but GENI returned to my consciousness in the nick of time and I immediately started playing around with the website. It's an interesting community -- like Linkedin perhaps, but limited to your connected family members. I spent the weekend messing around and in a few hours i had input everything i had on all these scraps of paper and i've tossed the entire box of garbage (!). I invited a few family members in to see if (a) older generations could navigate and (b) whether anyone was even interested. I had made a ning community for my immediate family, and while it was fun for me, in the end, few were willing to do any work there to contribute, and it floundered. So I had low expectations at GENI, and was surprised when relatives from all over joined in the building of this data tree.

I'm less than a week into it now, and even as more folks join in to build, i'm growing less interested in surfing around. So i'll be watching how interest grows and wanes, how the UI changes, and who in my family uses it. So far, i DO recommend this service. It's free; i don't see any ads (and can't imagine how their revenue model works, which always scares me); and it's very easy to start small, and see how it works for you.

Start your own family tree and let me know what you think.


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