Monday, August 20, 2012

Google, the verb. We all do it.

After Pat's post Friday about her Klout score, I had to find out just what this Klout thing was. To no one's amazement, mine is very low. So I Googled myself to see what came up. Surprise, surprise the first pages contained my blog posts, Amazon book reviews, RWA activities and literary agency profile mixed in with genealogy sites about someone's great-grandfather Lark Howard born in 1896. Apparently Lark is more common as a male name than female. Who knew? It wasn't until page 10 that my day job company profile appeared which was much further on than I'd expected.

I then went to Google images which turned out to be more interesting. Of the first couple dozen, 9 were actually me. Several other photos I'd posted on this blog (travel pics, Kay, Sarah, Dee) and one was Pat O'Dea Rosen. A Lark Howard who looks like George Carlin on a really bad day was busted in Arizona on several occasions and multiple mugshots of him popped up (he was wearing different clothes so I know there were several arrests).

All this Googling got me thinking about the multiple lives so many writers have. Those of us lucky enough to write full-time may write under a pen name to suit out genre. Others have more than one name for other reasons. Historical writer Eloisa James is a Shakespeare professor named Mary Bly who for years hid her author identity from her students. A wonderful paranormal author friend is an emergency room doctor who took a pen name because she shares her real name with a porn star (not a good thing when readers are looking for your website). A few months back an English teacher was outted in Pennsylvania as the author of erotic romances under a pen name, outraging some parents who called for her dismissal while students defended her. Those of us who have two professional identities under the same name can find ourselves facing some awkward questions when those online identities intersect unexpectedly.

I know a lot of people are horrified to learn how much information is online about them. Those of us who use the internet to promote ourselves as writers are often more aware of what we're putting out there and control the content more deliberately than casual social media users.  Still, I can't help but wonder what my clients might think if they search my name in the vast cyber data-dump and find this blog or my profile as a Prospect Agency author.

What's the funniest, most surprising or most shocking item you've ever turned up when you Googled yourself?


Sarah Andre said...

I specifically HAVE NEVER Googled myself! I figure the amount of cyber stuff I have done that's out there and being tracked will alarm me into never going online again.

I do know (in the age of My Space) that another Sarah Andre had a page. She was a goth teen who wrote poetry about suicide.OK.

I very quickly reserved!

At a workshop in April a presenter told us he has some type of program (avail at Google I'm sure) that 'dings' him every time someone types in his name. He said he wants to keep track of who's searching for him and/or what they are saying. He drops everything when he hears the 'ding' and goes to check it out.

I don't know if that is off-the-charts egotistical or frighteningly paranoid. Either way, it was a complete turnoff!

I don't want to know how much of 'me' is out there or who's looking at it. Head-in-the-sand strategy...that's me.

(So don't go Googling my name, Lark!)

Lark Howard said...

Couldn't help it, Sarah,I had to Google you. Don't worry, most of the Sarah Andres that came up were female and professionals. And a lot of the photos were you--although Andre Williams aka "Mr. Bacon Fat" was rather startling.

Being dinged every time someone typed my name would make me really paranoid too. Some things are better as a mystery. :-)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Oh, shoot, now I'm going to Google myself. The scream you hear from West Houston will be mine.

Four years ago, at an O'Dea Clan reunion in Ennis Ireland, I got talking to another Patricia O'Dea who'd grown up in one of NYC's boroughs. She told the story of a friend who walked into the bar where they were supposed to meet. The friend shouted, "Pat!" and twenty people turned around. Then the friend yelled, "Pat O'Dea," and ten turned
to look at her.

My point, and, haha, I do have one, is that we're not alone. If we're lucky, we share a name with someone much like ourselves. If not, we get the porn star or the felon who won't go straight.

Okay, I'm going to Google myself now.

Kay Hudson said...

I subscribe to Google alerts, and along with the notices called up by hits on my web site, I see all the Kay Hudsons who join Facebook, and at least one who was arrested, I think in Indiana, a few months ago.
The other day I ran my unusual (and very German) maiden name through the search facility on Twitter. I didn't find anyone I recognize as a cousin, but to my surprise most of the folks with my name on Twitter are not from Wisconsin. They have profiles in Portuguese. Apparently I have a great many (very distant) cousins in Brazil.

Louise Behiel said...

I have long been a volunteer so all sorts of things show up about me. I'll have to take another look. thx

Lark Howard said...

Brazil, Kay? How interesting. A lot of Europeans emigrated to South American after WWII so I guess that makes sense.

You're braver than I am to subscribe to Google alerts!

Lark Howard said...

As a volunteer, Louise, I'm sure everything online about you is very complimentary!