Friday, May 11, 2007

Colonizing cyberspace

The Wall Street Journal had an article the other day about Googling one's name. It seems people are increasingly distraught when their name gets lost among a myriad of others. Pity poor James Smith. Parents, it seems, will now run a new offspring's prospective name through the search engine to make sure it's unique. No point saddling a child of the Google Age with a place on hit page 631. If you have a common surname like Smith, then name the kid Dishikalina.

There is a bit of a problem, however. It seems that acceptance in business or politics has long depended on a nice white-bread name. If a recruiter is going to choose between Jane or Dishikalina, well, you know who'll get the job. All other things being equal, would you be more likely to vote for John Carter (1,080,000 hits) or Chester Figgbottom (0 hits)? Maybe Barack Obama's success (3,890,000 hits) will change things.

For the moment, Hillary Clinton (4,070,000 hits) beats out Obama, but then she had a head start. "John Edwards" (4,910,000 hits) trumps Hillary, but you can be sure that a lot of those John Edwardses aren't the candidate himself.

Only one of my six grandchildren is unique on Google, and she is helped by the Raymo surname. As far as I know, I'm the only Chet Raymo in the world. And probably the only Chester Theodore Raymo in the universe.

(Tom and I will both be on the road tomorrow. As compulsive as I am, I'll take the day off. See you Sunday.)