My journey started a few months ago. I got an email from a stranger named Jules Feldman who lives on a kibbutz in Israel. He had read one of my books. He wrote: “We have in our database about 80,000 relatives of yours. You are an eighth cousin of my wife who, in my opinion, is a fine lady.” I’m also, he said, related to Karl Marx and several European aristocrats.
The email had a bit of a creepy National Security Agency privacy-invasion vibe. But it was also, in a strange way, profoundly comforting. There I was, alone in my office, connected to 80,000 other humans. In a world where extended families lose touch as they spread across time zones, this seemed remarkable.
But why stop at 80,000? I discovered websites like WikiTree, WeRelate and Geni (which was recently acquired by MyHeritage) that allow you to expand your tree into million-tentacled monsters.
A.J.'s going to host the reunion in 2015 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY. I plan to be there to meet my nth cousins nth removed!
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects
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