As far as genealogy sites go, creating a family tree or researching your family’s history and then documenting the experience is not a new concept. But Vancouver’s newest startup Arcalife believes it fills a gap that its competitors don’t: That is to capture the past, present and future by creating a unique personal digital estate that integrates not only multi-media features, but also makes use of your current social networking habits and then seamlessly integrates it all.
The man behind the site is Founder Paul Taylor, a Brit-born Vancouverite. The site just launched in the UK, debuting the concept and getting fantastic buzz about it at the prestigious Who Do You Think You Are Alive exhibition. Paul says he created the site partly, because he believes that we all have a deep-set of emotional heirlooms that we simply can’t just preserve with a physical time capsule. (A message a loved one leaves you on your cell phone or a video of a special birthday.) Also, with social networking capturing so much of our daily lives–think of funny tweets or Facebook messages– he doesn’t want to dismiss how close friendships also play into the familial.
Once you join the site, it is a community where you can gather, collect, share and ultimately archive your life experiences, events, stories, family tree, family history or genealogy research. The sites is aesthetically appealing and user-friendly, the tutorials definitely help to really get the gist of it. Once you create a profile, which you can do for anyone in your family, you can then build your family tree and friends network, search you family tree online, as well connect with your social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and Myspace to round-out the information with your present life.
One of the unique features of the site is the Life Showcase category. The multi-media area lets you create a 3-D patent pending “Life Cube” that displays your photos, audio and video on a cube. It also lets you import your content from Myspace, Flickr, Facebook and Youtube. The obituary feature which is not rolled out yet is also interesting. You can leave a voice recorded message to your family, kind of like a living will. I think the concept of a digital estate is fascinating and it’ll be interesting to see how the idea is adapted. Read Paul's blog, check out his Flickr stream or listen to a recent interview on CBC's Spark, for more.