Friday, April 30, 2010

Genealogy Collaboration, Take Two

Two plus two often equals four...

I was just walking around at lunch time today at the NGS Conference thinking "you know, David Rencher made a really big deal about online collaboration in his interview with me, and then this demonstration of real-time collaboration today - I wonder how FamilySearch is going to make that happen?"

I wandered around the Tech Zone and saw the booth for Sharing Time and talked to Earl A. Mott, the President of the company. His company is working with FamilySearch to develop a real-time collaboration web site. The brochure says, in part:

"Why are you working alone?

"Find and connect -- Discover others who are working on the same person or the same line. Save time, avoid digging repetitious 'dry holes' and turn a lonely endeavor into a family adventure by working as a team.

"Collaborate -- Reach across borders, oceans, languages and time. SharingTime is the new platform for those who are passionate about connecting with others who share common ancestral lines.

"Communicate -- SharingTime integrates over 50 languages and translates in real-time making it easy and fun to collaborate with nearly anyone living anywhere in the world."

Earl said that when his product launches that there will be an icon on the persons in New FamilySearch that will link to and persons with access to New FamilySearch will be able to communicate, collaborate and upload document images to Footnote Pages in real-time. If you go to, there is little information - you can sign up for an email notification and download a brochure (the one I picked up today). If you are an LDS Member, you can sign up for a private beta experience. Apparently, Sharing Time is not yet a FamilySearch Certified Affiliate yet.

Doesn't that sound like what David Rencher was describing? It does to me - maybe I'm all wet here, but this may be how FamilySearch is going to do the collaboration effort.

Is there competition for There may be - look at this description of FamilySearch Affiliate on the FamilySearch Affiliates index:

"Family Pursuit enables families to work together on their family history by providing a centralized private and secure family tree website packed with features that enable family members to maintain an up-to-date and accurate genealogy database, coordinate and document research efforts, and upload documents and photos. Family Pursuit's intuitive drag and drop technology allows family members to easily transfer information between their family tree website and New FamilySearch. Family Pursuit's unique wiki-based approach enables family members to monitor the entire database and easily undo mistakes. An unlimited number of family members can be invited to join a family tree and each family member receives his/her own login."

That also sounds pretty similar to what David Rencher has been saying - it's a different way of sharing in a more private collaborative environment.

My impression, based on what I've discussed and heard at the NGS Conference, is that FamilySearch and its affiliates are going to create one of the largest genealogy wiki environments based on the New FamilySearch Family Tree database. When non-LDS members have access to the nFS Family Tree, then, hopefully, they can participate in the collaborative process being developed.

I'm sure that we will hear more about this as the process is developed. I thought that my devoted, and collaborative, readers would like to know about this!


Dean Richardson said...


Have you checked out yet? They've got another take on the collaborative family tree wiki concept. They're in the booth next to ours, they're well-funded, and they've got a solid plan for implementing their vision.

[And I've got no commercial interest in the referral.]

Dean Richardson

John said...

How can we do collaborative genealogy on line if all the living people can't be shown because of the threat of identity theft?
John Carruthers

Randy Seaver said...

John - it's a good question. I think the answer is that researchers will have to be able to make their interest known wherever there is a collaborative group forming or already formed. It could be through message boards or blogs or other communication outlets.

Most of the collaboration will occur on common ancestors, not on living people.

Randy Seaver said...

Dean - thanks for the tip. I've uploaded a tree to AppleTree but have not explored much more yet.

Geolover said...

Randy, re "Most of the collaboration will occur on common ancestors, not on living people."

That may be the intent, but John's point, er, points to what "tree" would be the basis of discussion. Such a tree might well include living persons. Or one could be particularly set up for the wiki that omitted all living persons.

Sidebar: I read somewhere that one stat is that about 1/3 of new users first do global searches for people born in the last half of the 20th century. Seems more to be 'snooping' than genealogy. While it may be that many of these persons are not convinced that genealogy is more about ancestry (cognizant of how many try to catalog all descendants of X & Y), there ~are~ people interested in finding birth-parents and birth-siblings, and whether some person really did get divorced. Hmmm.