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Saturday
Apr092005

Oogles of Googles

A recent Slashdot post about anonymous blogging got me thinking.  Someone said that their company “Googled” prospective employees, to dig up dirt on them.  In response, Chris Canfield wrote “On the other hand, do be careful with Google. If you google me, I’ve apparently built bike frames, been a tax attorney, am Colorado’s premier one-legged skiier, made several games, founded a birdwatching society, and am several computer consultants. One or two of these people is actually me. I’m one of 9 or 10 of me online. Unfortunately, according to the phone book there are over 50 of me in the US alone, meaning that if you google my name you only have a 1 in 5 chance that I have anything online at all, and then a 1 in 10 chance of guessing which one I am. And I don’t have a very common name.”

To check out this theory, I Googled my own name.  It yielded 814 hits, including these: 

1.  There is a character with my name on a soap opera, and most of the sites that came up regarded her.
2.  There was a Nigerian missionary in the 1930’s with my name.  She’s only listed on the web because there is a stained-glass window in Buckinghamshire, England dedicated to her memory.
3.  A high school girl from New Mexico who just got her CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and is making $40,000 a year while she pursues her high school diploma in her spare time.
4.  A British singer/songwriter.
5.  An elementary school teacher in Kansas.
6.  A Pittsburgh artist/photographer.
7.  A public relations specialist from New York.
8.  An Illinois college student who runs the 1500.
9.  Another college student who seems to be a tennis phenom.

There were a few more, but I got tired after page 4.  There were 62 pages of listings with “my” name on them (over 800 sites).  Only one of the sites I found was actually me.  So then, I tried my full name, including middle.

Only one hit, and not me.  So I tried my “online persona,” Raven Nightshado.  There were 49 hits. 

EVERY ONE WAS ACTUALLY ME.

I cannot stress enough the importance of creating an online persona.  I DON’T use my real name online much FOR A REASON.  And I think the above example shows clearly why.  When I want to hide, I can use my real name.  It’s hiding in plain sight, because it’s so common that it blends in nicely.  When I want to be noticed, I use my online persona, so that I can be identified.  And I rarely get spam.

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