Web Informant #318, 6 March 2003: I've been Googled




My working example for the past several years of a New Yorker

Internet-related cartoon has been "On the Internet no one

knows you are dog" -- spoken by one canine as he is typing on

his PC, no doubt using some form of doggie IM. Well, I am

going to have to update my mental cartoon archive -- a more

recent panel featured two guys in a bar, one saying to the

other "I can't explain it -- it's just a funny feeling that

I'm being Googled."


Well now, my world has changed. We live in scarier times.

Mistrust is everywhere. What better way to check out a

potential girl/boyfriend than to Google them, as first

reported in the New York Observer about two years ago? (So I

am little slow on the uptake here, sorry. I'll try to do

better and stay ahead of the general press in the future.)

Some people call this Google dating. You enter the person's

name in Google, and see what comes up. You can find out all

sorts of interesting things, including their age and

location, and (in some cases) other people with your name. As

an extreme example, my cousin has the same name as several

people from a college women's basketball star to a star in

more salacious videos, for example.


Let's face it: Google.com is the hands-down winner of the

search tools, and has been for some time. I don't think I

have brought up another search site in years, come to think

of it. They just do a terrific job (most of the time), and

when I can't find what I am looking for in the first couple

of pages on Google, I generally just go away and move on to

something else. That's the nature of the web these days: we

are too busy to track something down. Tenacity isn't a

virtue; it is getting in the way of moving down your to-do



Thinking about this further, the way I interact with the web

has also changed over the years.  I used to have a page of

bookmarks a mile long that had all sorts of sites that I

visited. I spent loads of time maintaining this list, placing

links in categories and ordering them by relative importance.

Given my mobile nature, the way I go through machines and

rebuild operating systems, and the way the web changes; that

pile of bookmarks has been pared down over the years to just

a few key sites. I don't need anything more. And if I do, I

can always Google something to find out.


So we now have Google as a verb. Actually, it is an entire

cottage industry. There are plenty of what I will call the

after-market sites, trying to pick up on Google's popularity.

A few examples (I am sure you can find others): GooglePeople,

a site that can answer "who is" kinds of questions. It isn't

all that authoritative -- when I put the question "who is the

first man on the moon" the results ranged from the correct

answer to Elvis and Forrest Gump.


Then there is googlism.com, which looks through Google

results and compiles them nicely in a single place for your

reading pleasure, to give you an idea of what others think of

you (as one example of how to use this service). I was happy

to see that this is what the site had to say about me, or at

least people with my name:


david strom is not only knowledgeable on his subjects but entertaining as well

david strom is one of my favorite tech writers

david strom is far more competent than we are in networking matters

david strom is good as usual this week

david strom is here to help you sort it all out

david strom is really smart

david strom is a must

david strom is a long


(I won't even hazard a guess where that last entry comes

from, or how it was completed.)


This can easily add even more hours to how much time you

spend in front of your computer. As a side note, the fun

thing about being master of your domain is getting serious

inquiries from people who either have your name in common or

who want to buy it from you. Strom is German for current, and

various electric utilities in Germany and Switzerland have

asked me to sell them the domain (although not for very

much). And I have heard from various David Stroms from all

over the world, including one gent who lives about an hour

away and I finally met him when he came to my book signing a

few years ago. (No, he doesn't look at all like me, and we

don't have any known ancestors in common.)


The googling of the Web is one more indication that things in

our industry have matured. And I am glad that the New Yorker

is on top of this trend, at least with their cartoons.