Social networking site of the day: Amiglia

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If you’re not already a member of at least 13 social networking websites, you’re a digital nobody. And more are springing up every day, flush with venture-capital and bright ideas on how to bring people together. Which is why Tech Digest is going to sniff out the latest, the greatest, and most crucially the ones that AREN’T just a pale YouTube / Flickr / MySpace rip-off.

First up is Amiglia, which really is one of those ‘why didn’t anyone think of it before?’ ideas. It bills itself as ‘Family 2.0’, which means it’s a photo-sharing site, but with a focus on family trees. As we genealogists like to say, it’s the illegitimate child of a one-night stand between Flickr and Ancestry.com. Or something.

Anyway, you can get a sense of how Amiglia works by looking at its demo site. Each person’s profile is a mixture of photos, videos, music and information. You can even enter your ancient family recipes, although in my case that would be ‘swearing, chucking the wok across the kitchen, ordering takeaway Chinese’.

The profile is one way to navigate, as everyone is linked to their husband/wife, parents, siblings and children, allowing you to click through to browse their profiles and latest stuff. There’s a separate ‘facebook’ of your family, friends and, er, pets – complete with built-in links to start Skype chats or conference calls. If Grandma hasn’t quite got the hang of this Voice-over-IP or Web 2.0 lark yet, Amiglia might be a good homepage to set her up with, bringing all these features together.

There’s also a powerful-looking Family Calendar feature, where you can schedule events, and set up birthday alerts so you don’t forget Aunt Edna’s 50th. But niftily, you can then use this calendar to navigate through photos taken at these occasions. Meanwhile, when you upload a photo, it’s automatically updated in all the family trees that you belong to.

I think the big appeal about Amiglia is that it really is designed around what interactions you’d want with your family, rather than being just another Flickr knock-off with a mild genealogy theme. It’s also got good connectivity, being able to import your existing photos from Flickr, and your GEDCOM genealogy data if you’ve already been using a family history website or application.

And there’s some cool geotagging features too, to link your photos to the place they were taken – although I think this might be a step too far for some of the less web-savvy users that Amiglia is clearly targeting. Having used some of the fairly complex family history communities online, I can say that Amiglia succeeds mightily in bringing some Web 2.0 accessibility to the party.

Stuart Dredge

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