This press release from BYU caught my geeky eye:
The group of computer science students developed a Facebook app called “Relative Finder.”
Most other genealogical Facebook applications are based only on your living family and at best can connect you with third or fourth cousins. The Relative Finder app goes back an average of nine or ten generations because it connects to the genealogical information [in new FamilySearch].
It can even show you your relationship to famous historical figures like the signers of the Declaration of the Independence, apostles and prophets from the early days of the restored church, American presidents and many more.
It requires you to have a new FamilySearch login (same as your lds.org login, if you have one of those set up). Setting this up requires you have your Member Record #, IIRC, but is worth the effort because it allows you to access not only the great new tools on new FamilySearch (example: the rainbow-beautiful family tree it can make), but it also provides access to your ward list, ordering temple clothing/garments, and other things. Anyway, back to the Relative Finder app, it will download your family tree from new FamilySearch, and then comb it for ancestors you have in common with famous people or your Facebook friends who have also installed the app.
I have heretofore maintained a strict no-app policy on my Facebook account, however, the prospect of combining my CS geekery with my genealogy geekery has overcome my concerns about privacy, and I installed the app. One disappointment is that it only searches for individuals with whom I share a common ancestor, not those who are related by marriage. For example, if your sister is married to a current apostle, that relationship will not show up in the list of connections to current apostles, even though it is very close. Instead you might get something on the order of 10th cousin. Still, there is plenty of fun to be had. Here are just a few relations to famous people it turned up for me:
David A Bednar: 8th Cousin 1 times removed
Common Relative: C BROWN
Boyd Packer, 8th Cousin 1 times removed
Common Relative: G ABBOT
Mark Twain, 8th Cousin 4 times removed
Common Relative: C REYNOLDS
But more interesting to me than the famous people connections would be to see how I am interconnected with my friends. It seems you can’t take a few steps in the Mormon world without stumbling on a connection of some kind–a co-blogger who used to be in the same ward as an old friend from Seminary, a son of somebody my dad knew from his college Institute days, my sister’s old missionary companion, and so on. It is fun to see on Facebook that a friend and I have a friend in common from a completely different context. To discover if there are common ancestor connections on Facebook, I’ll have to hound a few friends into also installing the app, so their new FamilySearch records can be added.