27 May, 2007

Geni - Make Your Family Tree, as easy as 1-2-3!

I have been putting this off for a long time; been using Geni more than a month now - So here it is: A review for Geni : The flash-based, easy to use family tree service.

Geni is not the first team to venture into genealogy, the study of pedigree (ancestry); which deals with the bloodlines which connect you and me. Others, like Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Genealogy.com, Genealogy.org etc. have been in the field for many years (See for yourself if you want; the basic services are free for all.), but Geni steals the prize by being simple.

Just seven weeks after going public in January this year, Geni caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of people through a simple, intuitive interface which far surpassed the interfaces of the competitors. Another major reason behind its popularity is its viral nature : you invite, say, 10 relatives, they invite 5 each, and so on - soon, your tree will contain hundreds of members you've never even heard of!

The service caught my sight when it was mentioned in Digit Magazine as a free service for building family trees. I was actually looking for a way to re-connect with my family members; its quite hard for me to remember the exact relationships when meetings are quite rare with distant relatives - sometimes, even close ones. So I didn't waste a minute and jumped online to www.geni.com...

Needless to say, I was instantly Hooked! Hectic days of compiling relations ensued, and within just 3 days I had added 500+ relatives to my tree (Yeah, I'm impulsive like that :) ), thanks to my parents who helped a lot by making dozens of phone calls to get names & long-forgotten bloodlines. (You don't have to do all the work yourself; inviting relatives to join is the recommended way to compile the tree.)

Here is a screen shot of the tree view:

Geni Screenshot

You can add more members to your tree yourself, or can invite relatives to join the tree. Only those you invite to your tree will be able to see it, so there is no privacy threat. If a member joins Geni through your invite and chooses a password, their profile will become un-editable by others; otherwise you can edit any profile in your tree.

Every member gets a photo album by default. Uploaded family photos can be tagged with the names of those who are in the photo, which will automatically add the photo to their profiles. For example, if I upload a photo of my cousins, and tag it with their names, all the cousins' profiles will have the picture in their album. Nice!

Recently they added the option to invite your family friends to Geni, which will enable those who join via the invitation to see your profile and your immediate relatives (but not their profiles).

In the true spirit of Web 2.0, Geni carries a 'beta' tag; they are still working on many of the features frequently requested by users, such as ability to import trees from other genealogy programs, an option to merge trees, exporting the entire tree as a GEDCOM file (industry standard for genealogy information) etc. Expect much more, soon.

So why wait? Go to Geni.com and start your tree - maybe one day you'll beat the old-school members of ancestry.com, with over 30,000 relatives(!!) in their trees...

No comments:

Post a Comment