In a previous post I wrote about a new utility program from Puzzilla.org. The basic idea of this program is to provide a visual representation of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree in way that shows the descendants of any of your direct line ancestors. The advantage of the visual representation is that it shows any areas of the descendants of your ancestors where information is lacking, i.e. where the lines end. In essence the program graphically portrays all of the descendants of any of your ancestors. This is explained in two videos on the website.
It is very interesting to see how little information exists on various family lines. As you would expect, some lines have been extensively researched, while others have been neglected to extinction. Some genealogical researchers arbitrarily draw lines around who they consider to be part of their "family." These decisions are made primarily based on the idea that "those people are not my relatives." I guess I sometimes do the same thing, but it does give me pause to wonder why I make those distinctions. From one viewpoint, there is no real end to who you can or should research. Part of the problem arises from the old, tired issue of ownership. People, genealogists in particular, think they own their family and its records. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrases "my research," "my family," and "my records" in conjunction with concerns about someone else adding to or taking away from "their research." Maybe a program such as Puzzilla.org really points to the fact that there is no real rational end to anyone's family.
I don't really know who the person or people are who are developing this particular program, but I can say that this type of tool is an eye opening experience and this is something we all need to see and be using to show what we have and have not done as genealogists and family historians.