Family Chronicle Magazine September/October Issue 2000 - Pages 21
Site Will Change the Way People Search Family Roots
Genealogy is like a complicated jigsaw puzzle made up of billions of pieces scattered
all over the world. Fitting the right pieces together is a tremendous challenge
because some pieces have been duplicated thousands of times, have been lost, or
have had an edge torn off. Everyone has a few pieces of the puzzle but we have never
seen the big picture to see how our pieces fit with the others. Some of us have
organized small teams and have pieced a corner or part of the border together, but
the real problem is that we have all been working on our own independent card tables.
A new website hopes to change that.
Onegreatfamily.com, which claims to have the capacity to house the genealogical
data of every identifiable person who has ever lived on the planet, launched nationwide
this summer in Salt Lake City, Utah. The online service is a collaborative database
where users pool their knowledge and records to build one huge shared database.
Unlike some of the other online services that accept GEDCOM files and then allow
other users to search across many files, OneGreatFamily.com really only has one
OneGreatFamily.com (OGF) is headed by Alan V. Eaton, who has become a technical
guru in the genealogy community by taking genealogy from indexes of static databases
to a technically advanced, living database. Eaton spent five years at Novell and
later was at LavaStorm, where he was the technical lead as the company developed
the online version of FamilySearch.org for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
"OneGreatFamily.com is building a single place for storage, collaboration and genealogical
data," said Eaton. " We are effectively ending the frustration from the duplication
of research efforts that have constantly plagued genealogy. We are constantly searching
the new data that is submitted to OneGreatFamily to find matches for each of our
members. A member might look at their family tree at breakfast, and come back at
lunch to find new light bulbs lighting up their family tree."
OneGreatFamily.com is built on the concept of sharing data, not just storing data.
The chances are that someone out there has information that will help you extend
your family lines. In the spirit of sharing, OGF performs continuous searches for
possible matches with your data amid data submitted by other OGF members. When a
match is discovered, an indicator in the form of a light bulb will appear in your
Sophisticated patent-pending technology is the backbone of OneGreatFamily. OGF's
"Hand-print technology" is a radical departure from conventional genealogy research
because it enables users to search their lineage through relationships, as opposed
to other Internet sites that only use names, dates, and places. The five fingers
of the hand represent the relationships-mother, father, spouse, children and siblings.
While some have called the OGF project "over-ambitious" or even "na�ve" , others
are excited about the possibilities. "They say some day all the software we will
ever use will be on the Internet rather than in our PC's" writes Gary Mokotoff,
editor of Avotaynu (News About Jewish Genealogy). "This philosophy has just become
reality for the genealogical community. Onegreatfamily.com, is the next step -possibly
the ultimate step- in placing family trees on the Internet."
Current online databases collect family trees, but make no attempt to link them.
Eaton's plan is to link all the family trees they receive to create one great family.
Individuals will maintain their own trees, but when a common link is found either
by submitters or matching and merging programs of OGF, the submitters can collaborate
and reduce all the information to a single record containing all that is known about
the matched individual. Information can be kept private at the discretion of the
person who has contributed the data.
The aim of OneGreatFamily is not only to build the world's largest lineage-linked
database, but also to build the most accurate database at the same time. As a shared
database, OGF has a unique opportunity for the world to work together on data to
resolve conflicts. For example, if two members of OneGreatFamily have conflicting
information on an individual in the database, both will see a conflict indicator
in the form of a lightning bolt, embedded in their family tree. Each member is then
able to view the conflicting data and is encouraged to collaborate to resolve the
conflict. If the difference cannot be reconciled, each member can agree to disagree,
giving each a customized view of his or her family tree.
"OneGreatFamily.com is simply the latest iteration of user-friendly genealogy databases,"
said Dick Eastman, syndicated genealogy columnist. "It couples this ease of update
with a great user interface that allows for almost instant maneuvers around a display
of thousands of individuals. I believe that OneGreatFamily.com is a winner and will
become very popular."
OneGreatFamily.com offers a free track with advertising as well as paid membership
that allows full access to its features. For more information, visit http://www.onegreatfamily.com.
Family Chronicle Magazine September/October Issue 2000 - Pages 21 & 22