12 January 2013

What happened to Kinfolio?

This post will summarize some history of FamilySearch Photos, and how it compares to the Kinfolio beta. Another post will show how you can be part of FamilySearch Photos today in the much more inclusive current beta.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that the current version of FamilySearch Photos (as of this post) is still a beta, and may have glitches or a lack of user interface. FamilySearch never said FamilySearch Photos is replacing the early FamilySearch Kinfolio beta, but uploading photos was one of the key features tested in the Kinfolio beta.

UPDATE: Kinfolio might have more to do with the "something in the works to allow users to share information to work together on living genealogies" that Ron Tanner is said to have mentioned. See "Family Tree Futures" a recent post by Ancestry Insider (30 January 2013).

FamilySearch employees have publicly mentioned plans to add an image upload feature at least as early as April 2011, when Tim Cross mentioned this at a Riverton FamilySearch Library Saturday seminar.

Early private beta "Kinfolio" is mentioned by bloggers and Deseret News
Bloggers started talking about a project known as FamilySearch Kinfolio as early as February 2012. My second blog post about Kinfolio provides the links to these blogs.

Kinfolio on the FamilySearch Labs website
In April 2012, I became aware of the program one day when I clicked on the Labs.FamilySearch.org site to see if anything was new. I wrote this first post then:
Kinfolio | A Mysterious FamilySearch Project

Speculation about the future
During my internship at FamilySearch I heard something about the program again. This peaked my interest, so I wrote a second blog post (referenced earlier). When I wrote the post I was careful to leave out anything that I could not already find online and in other blogs (workplace privacy you know). I took it offline temporarily due to those privacy concerns, but information about the beta is publicly available.

Differences between Kinfolio and FamilySearch Photos
If you read my 2nd Kinfolio post now, and use FamilySearch Photos you will notice a striking difference. In my opinion, FamilySearch Photos is a logical stepping stone towards a more integrated user experience that may yet involve more features of Kinfolio.

First, they use very basic (non-creative) naming--like FamilySearch Wiki, FamilySearch Indexing, FamilySearch Historical Records etc). Kinfolio was catchy and creative, but not typical naming practice. FamilySearch Photos is exactly the name I would have expected to be integrated initially.

Second, they are generally focused more tightly on specific technology for specific outcomes. Kinfolio tried to use Facebook and a Facebook app to encourage photo sharing. It also used a book-like family tree layout for sharing information about living relatives. These were additional sharing features that needed a lot of refinement, while simply sharing photos to the FamilySearch Family Tree would easily take priority in the organizational prioritizing of user requested features. 

This does not guarantee that FamilySearch is scraping plans for more integrated sharing, but I suggest you don't hold your breath for a Facebook app. FamilySearch tries to stick to things that will be stable for many years as they are a large non-profit with a focused mission. 

Perhaps less ambitious, but much more practical and reliable, FamilySearch Photos is now available to just about anyone who... read my new post to find out how to start.

Kinfolio also featured the ability to record and share audio histories/interviews. The interface and social media emphasis may be developed further, and I for one hope it is. At least we have photos for now.

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