Welcome to
kempi image



Interactive #kempiWeb Nodes

As indicated in the brief history, the #kempi project began as an IRC channel. Unfortunately, the technology posed problems for many of the intended participants. Most were techno-novitiates who were a bit daunted by the concept of and participation in Internet Relay Chat. Therefore, the membership was initially limited to those with either the expertise or the tenacity to dive into the medium. Others longed for the chance to take part, but encountered difficulties with technology implementation. So, the core four to six members were the only individuals to regularly commune.

When the #kempi channel transmorphed into #kempiWeb, the interactive nature was destroyed. A certain degree of real-time communication persisted in the form of instant messaging. However, various members preferred (and to this day still prefer) disparate IM technologies. Thus, those wishing to participate had to download and install multiple clients; and obtain a certain degree of proficiency with the various implementations if they wished to interact.

Even through the use of this technology, there are many limitations. Unless a previously scheduled rendez-vous was arranged, one was required to wait around until a potential correspondent comes online. For those lacking broadband, "always on" access, participation is particularly limited.

The ability to broadcast news and information required the use of yet another medium — eMail. The concept of a community calendar was completely out of the question. In short, the interactive and collaborative nature of the collective was severely compromised.

Enter MyFamily.com.

The founders of #kempiWeb created a series of interactive nodes through the community services available at MyFamily.com. Though originally designed and advertised as a tool for collaborative genealogical research, the corporate backers of MyFamily (Ancestry.com & RootsWeb) have long encouraged the use of the resource as a family gathering place. In recent years new services have been added and the interface altered to facilitate this utilization even more. Services offered include a group calendar, a photo album, a file cabinet, and various bulletin boards for news, recipes, and the like. One is also given the opportunity to engage in chat sessions and to keep an electronic address book of member information. In all the MyFamily site allows for a one-stop point of interaction.

Four family based nodes and two research nodes were created for each of the primary ancestral lines of the founding family. #kempiWeb.thigpen is the original node and was created in November 2000. Primarily a research oriented site (and originally named "The Thigpen Research Room"), at its height #kempiWeb.thigpen enjoyed an active roster of sixteen family historians of various levels of expertise. All were tied to one another through their descendancy from the three Thigpen brothers, Job, Ashley, and Spencer, who migrated to Texas in the mid-19th Century.

Relative success of #kempiWeb.thigpen led to the idea of recreating the interactive nature of the original #kempi IRC channel through the MyFamily paradigm. As a pilot #kempiWeb.adame was created in the early months of 2001. By MyFamily terminology, the Adame node is an "extended family" site. The membership of this node is restricted the immediate family members of Herman and Elizabeth, their siblings and parents. Initial adoption of the technology was slow. Soon, though, several of the members became quite active and the resource was visited frequently. It served as a centralized location for the dissemination of family related information.

#kempiWeb.johnson was activated in the fall of the same year and #kempiWeb.may was brought online in the spring of 2002. These represented the first examples of what MyFamily terms a "cousin" site. The membership of #kempiWeb.johnson is somewhat more exclusive being limited to the immediate family and descendants of Richard Leslie Johnson (1919-2002) and his spouse, <name withheld; still living>. OTOH, #kempiWeb.may is targeted for the known descendants of Ione Nehemiah May (1868-1942) and his two wives, Dona Violet Sartain and Willie Edna Jeter; thus adding another generation of descendants.

One of the four planned family sites, #kempiweb.andrus, never really got off of the ground. Like the May node, it was designed to be an extended "cousin" site with membership inclusive of all known descendants of Isaac Edward and Hortense (Conner) Andrus (1855-1934 and 1863-1956, respectively). This site was given verbal sanction by the board of I. E. Andrus Interests, Inc. (the corporation created to manage the legacy of the common ancestors), but they never followed through on the commitment to supply content. Within six months of the creation of the #kempiWeb.andrus concept site, MyFamily.com converted all existing sites to subscription-only status.

As the narrative above indicates, each of these nodes was targeted at members of a particular branch of the family. Some more extensive in their inclusion; some more exclusive. Three functions were served by this topology. 1) The server resources and disc capacities are spread between five groups. 2) Members of the various groups were tied together by a common relationship and could, therefore, share family specific items that may provide a source of anxiety within a setting of mixed, public membership. 3) Finally, members were more at ease with the prospect of sharing personal facts and anecdotes relating to family history with those who share a common ancestry and with whom one is more at ease. Admittedly, the latter is somewhat self-serving to the founders as that family is headed by the ad hoc family historian. However, it had been hoped that the overall result would be a certain level of comfort with the technology and a willingness to participate in an interactive capacity.

Unfortunately, with success comes popularity; with popularity comes system load; and with system load comes an impact on resources. As a result, MyFamily curtailed the liberal nature of some of the services that they once offered free of charge. These percs remain available, but only through a paid subscription. Chief among the restricted features is a decrease of available disk space for each group. As of 01 September 2001, site storage space was reduced from 75Mb to 5Mb. The basic service was also recategorized as a "trial" site. What that meant was not exactly known until June 2003 when the site administrators gave two weeks notice that all non-paid sites would be locked from access until payment for services was received. As an incentive, they graciously provided a 66% discount for the first year.

For the investment of fifty dollars, extension of the sites for an additional year was not too much of an issue and would provide a much needed buffer within which to evaluate the future of the site(s). One of the nodes was generously sponsored by a contributing member other than the admin; and that helped. However, the $150 investment that would be needed as of June 2004 was deemed not cost effective. It was determined that this amount could be better applied toward the creation, perpetuation and enhancement of a consolidated, localized community within #kempiWeb. Several months of research and testing ensued; by January 2004 a replacement technology based on the commercial Content Management System (CMS), pMachine, was adopted. Archive, migration, and recreation of the MyFamily content followed and on 24 June 2004 the migrated site, #kempiCommunity, was opened for membership.

It is here that we find ourselves, today. #KempiWeb has evolved over the past nine years from an IRC channel to a fully autonomous, interactive community. Many members of the families visit regularly to keep abreast of the happenings of the various domestic units thereof. Inidividuals spread far and wide are brought closer by electrons; space is compressed and people remain informed.

If you are interested in joining the interactive community and meet the membership requirements outlined above, please send a message to the administrator or visit the site for more information.


HIM envelope
last edited: 2004.06.24