That’s Me In The Corner

Geni_1 When I was around sixteen, I started to map out my extended family and try trace back my ancestry as far as I could from elderly relatives…after a few weeks research, I ended up with a huge A2 pencil drawn family tree.

At that time, I counted around 80-90 people across five generations. Asian families can have convoluted structures; people have lots of kids (a very horizontal tree) and there’re quite a few marriages between cousins; (very horizontal and um, loops?).

Around 1992, using my beloved Amiga 1200, I transcribed the tree into an AmigaGuide hypertext document, with some simple profiles of each family member…and there it languished for almost fifteen years…a dead document of my family, frozen in time and awaiting the advent of HTML and the Web 🙂

Recently with my work in social networking platforms and technologies, I began to think about re-inventing my family tree as a network of relationships that could be visualised in many different ways – trees, maps, graphs etc. – and where each family member would maintain their own profile and relationships. Maybe this could be a service that other people could use too and connect their various family trees together.

Well today, my erstwhile employers covered the launch of David Sack’s Geni – a very cool online family tree service. Within fifteen minutes I’d sketched out five generations and a couple dozen family members; Geni even let me use the service without signing up, but actually completing my registration as I used the tools.

It’s still missing a few of the specific tools I’d need, but I think it’s time for me to revisit my tree and turn it into a living digital document of my خندان. Geni allows you to invite the relatives you’ve added and help build out their part of the tree and their personal profiles.

In case you’re wondering about the screengrab, that’s me in the corner.


  1. You’re right – though I guess the lack of research tools is mitigated by being able to ‘delegate’ parts of the tree. Unfortunately, most of my extended family isn’t on any census, until the post-Colonial era of India and Pakistan.

  2. A doctor tried that with myself here in the States once, after 1 generation, he shrugged his shoulders and said “that’ll be quite enough” — I have 85 first cousins — drove him batshit.


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