Monday, March 2, 2009

Facebook for Dead People - a MOAGFT?

Janet Hovorka (the Chart Chick) and Donna Pointkouski (What's Past is Prologue) have had fun speculating today about "Facebook for Dead People" on their blogs (and on Facebook). Donna went so far as to create Facebook entities for some of her family, and then had "conversations" between them!

The issue is really "what is the best way to create a Mother of All Genealogy Family Trees" (MOAGFT) in which everybody (billions of persons throughout history!) has an individual page. From several sources, I know that LDS FamilySearch Labs is really struggling to make this happen in New FamilySearch.

What are the other major genealogy data providers and family tree purveyors doing? I think that they are all trying really hard to figure out how to create the MOAGFT. There are some clues on some of the web sites. has "People" pages in their Public and Private Member Trees databases. Each person in a member's database has a page with Facts, Family Members, Images, Notes, etc. The user can attach images through an upload from their computer or by finding record images in Ancestry databases. Here's a view of my father's entry in the Ancestry Member Tree:

When I was in Provo in January, there was a good conversation about Individual Pages - see it in Day 2 in SLC - A Visit to TGN - Part 3.

Will create a massive MOAGFT seeded with all of the Individual Pages from Public Member Trees, and put them into a wiki format so that collaboration can occur among all interested researchers? Maybe!

There are not many public views of New FamilySearch - I found this Person Page on the FamilySearch Labs site for the Life Browser:
Facts, Family Members, Notes, Artifacts, etc. are shown along with several timelines and locality maps for each person. My guess is that these pages will be created for every person in the New FamilySearch database. used the Social Security Death Index to seed over 80 million "Footnote Pages" on their web site. Here is a view of my father's Footnote Page:

Facts, Family Members, Stories, Images, Videos, etc. can be uploaded for each person, and the person can be linked to parents, a spouse, and children.

The first, and largest to date, Person Wiki was started at in 2007. There is a page for each person input by the user (I uploaded a GEDCOM). Here is the screen for my grandfather, Frederick Seaver:

The Family Relationships, notes, images and other information can be added to the person page in a wiki environment. The wiki environment means that other researchers can add or edit information to an existing page subject to certain protocols.

So which one will be the "winner?" Will it be all of them, or some other family tree and database provider, that hits on the "magic formula" that causes most of the genealogy world to jump onto the "Person Page" bandwagon? FamilySearch and Ancestry certainly have the most information to start out with.

Isn't the future of genealogy research intriguing and interesting?


familytwigs said...

I have looked at them all over time. I'm looking for the place that will be open to the most people. For me that is WeRelate. It has gotten much more friendly over time. It is free, so anyone can participate, and it is affiliated with the Allen County (IN) Library. Though so far I have not made any contacts there I am hopeful that as it grows I will!
(I'm Familytwigs there)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sheri. I've been impressed with WeRelate since its inception and my admiration continues to grow. It has the potential to be not only an authoritative family tree, but also a comprehensive encyclopedia of genealogy research and a biography of all the "normal" people in our heritage who have accomplished the most amazing things.

Jennifer said...

I think the biggest issue at this stage is diffusion of effort, when, of course, concentration of effort is what is likely to make a MOAGT site most effective and, cyclically, the most popular!

Reminds me of how I have a slew of social networking site accounts, as, at the beginning, people where splattered between MySpace, Orkut, Facebook, and some other random small players. Now that most everyone is on Facebook, I ignore my accounts on other sites and concentrate my efforts there.