June 2, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Here come the 'Family 2.0' sites

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Kraus said Jotspot stumbled on the idea for Family Site after many people were using its business-designed wiki technology for social tasks, like keeping track of birthdays and sharing calendars.

"We followed our noses based on what people were doing with JotSpot," he said. "But wikis aren't the easiest technology to understand, so we've tried to obscure any wiki-ness about it" for Family Site.

People can set up a secure family site within minutes. And Jotspot offers features like voting tools, and interactive family maps that illustrate genealogy and allow members to explore the big picture of their family's generations.

Family networking

These Web sites offer services meant to facilitate family networking:

Myheritage.com is a free facial recognition site offering photos and genealogy launching this month.

Famundo is a combination free and pay site coming this summer that offers calendar sharing, birthday reminders and vacation planning.

Jotspot is a free site in beta that offers genealogy maps, voting, and sharing of photos and recipes.

Amiglia is a combination free and pay site in beta that offers photo sharing, dynamic family trees and kid photo games.

Ourstory is a free site in beta that creates timelines with life experiences, photos and video.

Zamily is a free site that launched in May offering all things social networking for the family.

Families.com is a free site that launched in 2005 offering an advice and blog community for parents.

Famoodle is a free site that debuted in May offering photo and event sharing, family networking and news.

Cingo is a free beta site offering private and shared calendars, to-do lists, news and movies.

Familyroutes is a free beta site that offers family blogging and photo sharing.

Minti is a free beta site that offers a Wikipedia-style collection of parenting advice.

David Smith, a resident of Norfolk, Va., and the oldest of 20 grandchildren living around the country, said he and his grandfather had been talking about setting up a family site so everyone could communicate better. That's when he discovered Jotspot's Family Site, which launched last month.

"We have a diverse family as far as their computer experiences and usage, so we needed something simple enough for everyone to still participate in," Smith wrote in an e-mail. He added that beyond simplicity, the site delivered more than expected, such as the ability to chart a family tree and to share family recipes.

"This helps break down the walls of distance and makes our individual families feel more a part of each other," he said.

Many of these Family 2.0 sites were started by families who wanted this kind of technology for themselves.

Husband and wife team Paul and Milena Berry started Amiglia, a photo-sharing and family tree site. Privately funded, it launched a public beta in late February, but the Berries plan to introduce a new version this summer. They say Amiglia has already drawn about 100,000 readers.

"Our focus has been anti-WebVan--low cost of operations. We've managed to build Amiglia and develop it for very little," Berry said.

Certainly there's a question of money. Just like with wikis--or collaborative open-source platforms like Wikipedia--many wonder how all of the sites will turn a profit. For now, many are trying to attract enough members so they can eventually pull in advertising dollars, or so they can charge for premium services. But one of the sites can reach a critical mass, profits could remain elusive.

"How the market will make money, and for whom, is a big question right now," said Peter Kim, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Jotspot, for example, makes money by selling technology subscriptions to businesses. But Family Site is free for consumers. Amiglia.com plans to make money by selling annual subscriptions for better storage. It's free to store 1GB of photos and videos on the site, but access to 100GB of storage costs about $50 a year.

Famundo, based in Pacific Palisades, Calif., is a family social networking site that will launch its first application next week, for organizations like schools. After that, it plans to introduce, in July, a subscription-based service for families, said co-founder Richard Kuhlenschmidt.

As for the family meme on the Web, Berry believes that good ideas float around in the ether and smart people pick up on them at the same time.

"We hope that our strategy of low-cost operations but powerful development cycles will allow us to out-survive them all," Berry said. "We really hope the whole category does burst out in the next six to nine months, but that will be left to be seen."

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Family networking around real world communities
There are many sites that specialize in photo sharing, calendaring, family trees, etc. So why would families not just use these sites ?

Family specific sites have to serve a specific purpose - not just be a myspace clone for a different demographic.

SchoolParentNet (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.schoolparentnet.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.schoolparentnet.com/</a>) has taken a unique approach to making family connections around real world communities - enabling social and school specific interaction for parents with PreK-12 children. Parents from across the country have already signed up (300 + schools from 35+ states).
Posted by anspn (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag

You may like to check this post out about your site.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://family2point0.wordpress.com/2006/06/08/schoolparentnet-building-secure-communities-around-our-children/" target="_newWindow">http://family2point0.wordpress.com/2006/06/08/schoolparentnet-building-secure-communities-around-our-children/</a>

Would be great to hear your comments.

Posted by rachelcook (3 comments )
Link Flag
My own small example
I spent a little bit of my spare time working on a similar concept. It's humble, I know, but it has an interface that I kind of like for families sharing information. Check it out if you're interested: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.familopia.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.familopia.com</a>
Posted by towski (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hi towski,

I'll check it out.

Talking Tech on Family 2.0
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://family2point0.wordpress.com" target="_newWindow">http://family2point0.wordpress.com</a>
Posted by rachelcook (3 comments )
Link Flag
Great Start
I really like your motto "It Is all about Family". I'd encourage you to link to it on eFamily.com once you've got something you want to expose to the market!
Posted by davidhosei (2 comments )
Link Flag
Another Family site worth mentioning is MyGoodFriends.com
It's got messaging and profiles like Myspace but it's deffinitely a
family-friendly site. You can pick little buttons for things you
support like cancer research, recycling, political parties, etc that
show up on your profile. Also on your profile there's areas where
you can write about yourself, your family, and your pets. The thing
I like the best is the family page. Only my family can view it. I put a
link to my son's oboe recital music which was awesome because my
family who couldn't make it, still got to hear him play.
Posted by corsa180 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MyGoodFriends.com is a great site
I'm also a member on MyGoodFriends.com and I love the site. I created a profile that was unique to who I am. I can connect with all my friends and family that I hardly ever get to see and I never worry about the safety of the site. My family members put up pictures of themselves and their kids so I can see what every one is up to and I feel involved in their lives. MyGoodFriends.com is such a great social network for me and my family.
Posted by nicole289 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Great I'll check it out for a profile on Talking Tech on Family 2.0

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://family2point0.wordpress.com" target="_newWindow">http://family2point0.wordpress.com</a>

Posted by rachelcook (3 comments )
Link Flag
Friends For Families
Here's another new site for families. It's designed to help families connect with other families in their local areas. The site is trying to do for families what the online dating sites have done for singles.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.FriendsForFamilies.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.FriendsForFamilies.com</a>
Posted by jpmcauley (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Family social networks mature

More family social networking sites have popped up since this article. Check out Famiva (famiva.com). We built this site to offer the most complete integrated family network. But don't take our word for it. Be your own judge and try it out. It's free.

- Zak
Posted by zakmandhro (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Follow-up To Your Story?
This was an excellent article. Now, 1 year later a few more players have emerged and millions of dollars have been invested (e.g., efamily.com, geni.com, etc...) Additionally, I think it could be useful to the space to have a panel where all of us get together. I know Clay and Rachel are in the Valley now and most of the sites are based on the west coast. My wife and I would be happy to take a trip out there if we can get some good people on the panel (e.g., Disney's - Family.com, Minti.com, Mayasmom.com, Geni.com and eFamily.com -- possibly Generations Network Rep.).

I'll shoot a note over to Paul Allen (the lesser) at World Vital to see if he can get some of his contacts to make it happen.

Nevertheless, I'd love to see a follow-up on your article.

All the best,

David Hosei
Associate at International Web Properties (eFamily.com)
Posted by davidhosei (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here's a fun family site for the holidays.

Posted by bgolson (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
If you?re traveling with kids, you might want to check out the recently launched beta of trekaroo at http://www.trekaroo.com. It?s a community of families that share reviews on kid-friendly activities, hotels, and vacation rentals. It also has a forum that is tied into the activities, reviews, and places so that you can ask specific questions about traveling with kids. Would love any feedback you might have. It's a work in progress. http://www.trekaroo.com
Posted by bpang (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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