App keeps Icelanders from dating their cousins

In a country of 330,000 where everyone is related somehow, this technology will surely come in handy.

By Jason Notte Apr 17, 2013 1:16PM
Couple using smartphone (© Image Source/Getty Images)Imagine you're a 20-something from Reykjavik who has always had a deep, lustful crush on Bjork. Your room is papered with her images, her face is the wallpaper on your smartphone, and her albums are the soundtrack to your life.

What if it turns out she's your aunt or cousin? Isn't that information you'd want to know before you revisit that fantasy about being an extra in the "It's Oh So Quiet" video?

In Iceland,  a nation with a population roughly the size of St. Louis', there's an app for that.

As News of Iceland points out, everybody in Iceland is related. You don't go through thousands of years of history and come out on the other end with fewer than 330,000 people without some of the same genetic material getting passed around. Fortunately, most Icelanders aren't related closely enough to cause any problems or embarrassments.

But how can you avoid awkward conversations and revelations? Well, in the earlier days of the Internet, you had to sit down at some connected PC, scroll through the 720,000 names in the "Book of Icelanders" and then call your date to confirm you're still on for dinner -- or cancel and tell him or her you'll catch up at the next family reunion.

Now that information is available in a Google (GOOG) Android app that lets Icelanders access that vital information from their smartphones or tablets and in some cases use Bump Technologies' app to bump smartphones with the other person to see how closely related both are. The developer's tagline for that particular use is "Bump the app before you bump in bed."

The fact is, in Iceland everyone is a branch on the family tree. Simple logistics preclude it from being otherwise. Your options for keeping relations as far from the trunk of that tree as possible are to rack up the frequent-flier miles and date exclusively outside the country, troll the Reykjavik hotel bars for foreign tourists, find someone with at least one parent who's not from Iceland or seek out an extremely distant relative.

That last option is often the easiest and most convenient for Icelanders and helps them avoid running into past dates at family parties.

A commenter on the app's home page was quoted by News of Iceland as saying, "If I would have had this app last year I probably wouldn't have gone home with my cousin." Indeed.

Follow Jason Notte on Twitter at @notteham.

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Apr 17, 2013 1:40PM
now if they could only get an app for Alabama!!
Apr 17, 2013 3:04PM
If they get divorced, are they still brother and sister?
Apr 17, 2013 3:15PM
Well at least they will have something in common to talk about on their first date.
Apr 17, 2013 2:30PM
It would also be cool to know that someone you run into at a party was, like, a cousin twice removed on your mother's side and to hear a little bit of the family history from them. And you've made a new friend already.
Apr 17, 2013 2:59PM

They need this for Utah. All of those Mormons with their huge families are always accidentally dating each other. Icky.

Apr 17, 2013 3:33PM
Apr 17, 2013 3:21PM
Many small American towns need that!

How do you think the humane race started.?

 With the Smiths and the Browns?.

Monkeys and incest. so goes the scripture. 

The old dude who begat 400 kids  might give you a clue as to incest.

Apr 17, 2013 3:31PM
what is wrong about this?  why the bigotry?  if they are in love why do you hate them?
Apr 17, 2013 4:23PM
A young,newly married couple from Arkansas moves to California to experience the modern life.  After a few weeks the young man calls home to report that they are both moving on to new partners and are divorcing.  But what he wants to know "are they still going to be brother and sister"? 
Apr 17, 2013 3:56PM
What liability must the app provider support in the event that mistakes are made? I'm quite certain that prospective users must sign a release statement just as I am sure that lawyers are keenly awaiting the opportunity to nullify such statements since liability is no different in Iceland than it is here...
Apr 17, 2013 4:34PM

Seriously, before the wheel, steam engine, and locomotion...How far can some one walk looking for a bride/husband? Especially in agrarian societies where folks worked six days a week and have only Sundays to look for a mate- and only after Sunday service

Apr 17, 2013 3:31PM

It's not the southern states you have to worry about.

California, NY, Vermont and Mass are the states

that keep trying to reinvent who can shack up and

declare it a marriage.

Apr 17, 2013 4:28PM
You got to be kidding?  Only in Iceland?!
Apr 17, 2013 3:30PM

People think they need it for the south. Try Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. They will love this app.


Apr 17, 2013 3:45PM
Where do you think the expression "The closer the kin, the deeper in" comes from?
Apr 18, 2013 11:20AM

Family reunions in Iceland are easy to schedule. All they need to do is declare a national holiday and call it a "Family Reunion".

Apr 17, 2013 5:32PM
Kind of gives a whole new meaning to "bumping uglies."
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