Saturday, February 17, 2007

new Geneaology

Geneaology: The next generation | | Naples Daily News: "Geneaology: The next generation

Newest site is part genealogy, part six degrees of separation

By EMILY STEEL, The Wall Street Journal

Friday, February 16, 2007

From the beginning, the Internet has attracted people seeking to research their family trees — and sites wanting to make money off their pursuits.

The Web’s search capabilities seemed custom-tailored for sorting through long-forgotten records that are now being dusted off and digitized. And hundreds of sites sprang up.

In practice, though, Web genealogy has led to a lot of frustrated consumers — the process has been expensive (most sites charge fairly steep subscription fees) and time-consuming.

Now, sites are aiming to eliminate some of those drawbacks. One new entrant —, which was launched last month by a former PayPal executive — offers a new model, based on connecting living relatives free of charge.

The site is part genealogy, part six degrees of separation: Instead of paying a of paying a fee to research family records buried in archives, it asks users to build their own family trees — using the knowledge of living relatives — that eventually will merge into one giant family tree for the world.

That’s the hope anyway. is taking some of the elements of popular so-called social-networking and user-generated content sites such as Wikipedia and MySpace. It went live in mid-January and has registered more than 100,000 users since then.

It has done no traditional marketing yet, but blogs such as Digg (where users submit news stories) and Tech Crunch (which focuses on technology) have passed the word.

The site is free. Rather than charging fees, Geni plans to sell advertising and to generate revenue by creating “premium” accounts and selling products such as posters or coffee-table books of the family trees.

But Geni has already courted controversy — and raised privacy concerns.



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